Almost exactly two months after an El Paso County woman in her 80s became Colorado’s first victim of the novel coronavirus, the state now has topped 1,000 deaths in connection with the pandemic.
State health officials on Tuesday confirmed 1,009 people have died in connection with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, while there now are more than 20,000 known cases of the respiratory illness.
After the state’s first confirmed death on March 13, the virus quickly escalated into what health experts determined was exponential growth.
Deaths and hospitalizations peaked during the first two weeks of April, state data shows, with the 35 deaths on April 9 serving as the high point for fatalities. The trajectory has since moved mostly downward, with daily deaths closer to one-third the levels of the early April peak. But health officials warned cases will increase as social-distancing measures are relaxed, and a second surge is possible.
COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory illness, has preyed mostly on those over 60, accounting for 920 deaths, or 91% of the state’s total. But younger people also have been gravely affected, including a 16-year-old Denver high school student and a 21-year-old college baseball player from Arapahoe County.
The deaths have come in big cities such as Denver and in small mountain communities like Clear Creak. They’ve come in the northern tips of the state and out into the Four Corners. They’ve been found in meat packing workers and Walmart employees. They’ve hit prisons on the Eastern Plains and in sheriff’s departments on the Front Range. The virus has taken singers from Aspen bars and lovers of bridge tournaments and choirs.
Nowhere has been harder hit than senior living centers, which have seen nearly 200 outbreaks. The pandemic has been responsible for 23 lives from one care facility in Aurora and 18 at another in Weld County.
There have been 3,695 people hospitalized since the outbreak was first confirmed in the state in March, but only 563 people were in Colorado hospitals with symptoms of the illness as of Monday afternoon, state data shows. At least 38 people since Monday either went home or were transferred to a lower level of care, like a rehabilitation facility.
More than 20,100 people have tested positive for or are believed to have COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease causes by the virus — though health officials have said the true number is likely far higher.
Officials recorded more than 2,900 tests on Monday as the state ramps up its capabilities to better track the virus. The testing rate — 51.1 tests per 100,000 people per day — is still significantly lower than the 152-per-100,000 daily number pegged by health experts as necessary to safely monitor the outbreak.
Much of the testing has been focused on senior living facilities and other care homes. Officials have confirmed outbreaks at 199 facilities across the state, seven more than the previous day.
The state health department announces new totals daily of coronavirus deaths and confirmed cases based on what’s reported up from Colorado’s counties; though the deaths and positive test results may be announced on a particular day, they may have occurred any time in the past and are just now being reported to the state.
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