DENVER — Experts with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimate more than 50% of the new COVID-19 cases in Colorado are comprised of the Delta variant, which originated in India and has spread quickly across the United States.
"We're concerned about the Delta variants, specifically because it has evidence of increased transmissibility and a potential reduction in neutralization by some of the treatments that are available," said Ginger Stringer, the epidemiology response program manager for the CDPHE. "Our concern is primarily for folks who are at higher risk of severe disease or death from the virus and protecting them."
Vaccinated people are still protected from the variant, but with just over 50% of Colorado vaccinated, there are still pockets of the state where COVID-19 spreads quickly. The county with the highest transmission rate is Mesa County. It also has the lowest rate of vaccinations, sitting just above 40%.
Denver, in contrast, has vaccinated roughly 65% of its residents.
"Mesa County is one of the lower rates of vaccination, and it has a much higher rate of transmission than other parts of the state," Stringer said.
Mesa County has seen the beginnings of a new COVID-19 wave as cases continue to rise. The CDC has been called to the area to investigate the spread, but health experts in Denver say there is spread in the city as well, though hospitalizations are down.
"These patients who are coming in with COVID are younger— they're in their 20s, and 30s, sometimes in their 40s," said Dr. Reginald Washington, the chief medical officer for Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center. "We have three at our institution, as we speak this evening, one of whom is very, very sick."
Medical professionals agree the best way to avoid any variation of COVID-19 is the same as before: Get a vaccine.
"There still is a very large vulnerable population out there," Washington said. "And until the entire population reaches 70% for herd immunity of vaccinations, that we still are going to have a problem on our hands."