DENVER— Millions of plans are underway for the long weekend, and experts warn now is not the time to let your guard down. The delta variant remains a threat and new COVID-19 strains are emerging.
In Thursday’s press conference, Gov. Jared Polis reminded Coloradans that pandemics don’t take holidays off.
“The last thing we’d want to see is Labor Day leading to another spike in our state potentially jeopardize our hospital capacity,” Polis said.
Denver International Airport is expecting 1.1 million people to funnel through their airport over the weekend and millions more will hit the road to reach their destination. Monday is expected to be the busiest day at the airport with 211,000 travelers.
Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth, stressed that enjoying the weekend and staying safe is all about balance.
“For these types of activities, the people that are at highest risk of getting COVID and having a complication are the ones that are unvaccinated; the vaccinated ones still could potentially because of just volumes get infected,” Barron said.
Health experts are warning unvaccinated people to stay home. Between 85% and 90% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are people who didn't get the COVID-19 shot, according to Barron and the delta variant remains one of the most contagious strains. The World Health Organization is currently monitoring the “mu” variant.
The CDC puts COVID-19 strains into two categories, which are variants of concern and variants of interest. Barron said at this time, “mu” is considered a variant of interest. The strain was first identified in Colombia and has since been detected in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It's believed to be as contagious as the delta variant. Recently, another strain known as C.1.2 has been circulating in South Africa that is also being closely monitored. Medical experts say these variants have the ability to evade the immune system.
“The concern is that it could have some impacts on how well vaccines may perform,” Barron said.
To stay safe over the weekend Barron recommends choosing outdoor events and small gatherings over big crowds. If you choose to attend a big festivity, she says keep your mask on and move away from the crowds to eat or drink.
She considered attending a crowded bar a high risk. As for flying, she said it’s overall safe because people are required to wear a mask, but points to driving with people you know as a safer alternative.
Barron continues to push for people to get their COVID-19 shot, she says it continues to offer the best protection.