Colorado officially tops 11,000 COVID-19 deaths


Colorado officially surpassed 11,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, continuing the state’s recent trend of adding about 1,000 new casualties from the virus each month.

The latest milestone comes as the state battles a rapid, ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases propelled by the omicron variant. Hospitalizations have surged: They’ve surpassed the peak from November 2021, which took more than five weeks to cover the ground that omicron has covered in fewer than three. The positivity rate this week nearly topped 30%; it’s showed early, promising signs of stabilization in recent days, though.

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The good news about omicron is that it’s causing milder disease than its predecessor, delta. Its freakish levels of transmissibility present new challenges to society, but some degree of solace can be taken from its less severe characteristics: ICU bed capacity in Colorado, for instance, has improved from the delta wave, and hospitals are reporting more ICU beds available than they have for weeks.

That milder presentation appears to be borne out in mortality, as well. Mortality data lags often by a few weeks at a time because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms those figures and then reports them back to the state. It is thus difficult to gauge death totals or trends in real time. But currently available data indicates deaths have slowed compared to the highs of November.

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Still, Coloradans continue to die of the virus, the worst impacts from which can be largely avoided via vaccinations and boosters. Friday’s milestone comes exactly a month after the state surpassed 10,000 dead on Dec. 14. That came roughly a month after the 9,000 mark, which also followed roughly a month behind the 8,000 threshold. In contrast, it took the state roughly four months to move from 7,000 to 8,000.

Nationwide, more than 844,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Thanks in part to the delta wave’s lengthy and lethal presence, more Coloradans died of COVID-19 in 2021 than did in 2020, though the most deadly phase of the pandemic came in November 2020. 

Even so, Colorado has one of the lowest per-capita death rates in the country, according to Statista, a fact that Gov. Jared Polis has touted in recent weeks.