DENVER — Omicron may be headed for a rapid drop in Colorado. A wave of omicron variant cases straining Colorado hospitals is expected to peak sometime next week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Wednesday.
Cases of the now dominant COVID-19 variant have spiked in Colorado in recent weeks, with a nearly 30% seven-day average positivity rate, but data shows the number of COVID-associated hospitalizations is dropping among patients who have a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy explained during a virtual press briefing Wednesday, that among the people hospitalized with some sort of COVID diagnoses, those whose primary issue was the virus itself typically made up around 80% to 90% of all COVID-associated patients. However, that number has dropped to around 65% amid the recent omicron wave.
“This same trend is being observed nationally and in other countries, where we are seeing that value has now dipped down to 65%,” Herlihy said.
She did not explain why this is occurring but said looking at other countries, like South Africa and Britain, they are seeing signals that the omicron wave may have peaked, and it is expected to do the same in Colorado.
“If we look at the modeling data or if we look at that data where we kind of fit the Colorado curve to other locations, it does look like that [the] number of hospitalizations [could peak] sometime in the next week or so,” Herlihy said.
While Colorado’s healthcare system is still under a tremendous strain, that drop in hospitalizations in severe cases is helping healthcare facilities grappling with staffing issues continue to operate without the need to implement crisis standards of care for hospitals and it's freeing up beds in intensive care units, according to COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman with the CDPHE.
Health officials around the country are echoing some of the same findings. Scientists are predicting that omicron cases are going to drop as fast as they went up. They said the worst may be behind us after daily infections hit 6 million on Jan. 6 in the U.S., the Associated Press reported.