Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations passed 300 for the first time in months, but they’re still below other big waves

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A BinaxNOW home COVID-19 testing kit.

COVID-19 hospitalizations keep rising and have popped above 300 for the first time since early March, but the number is still well below prior big waves, data posted Wednesday on the state health department coronavirus dashboard show.

Three hundred twenty-three Coloradans are now hospitalized with confirmed cases — four times the number of hospitalizations recorded in mid-April, when they dropped to the lowest level since the pandemic began.

The steady climb in hospital patients comes as transmission levels are also rising. The rate of positive tests has been above 12 percent for the last week, dipping just below that level on Wednesday. But the positivity rate metric doesn't include most home rapid tests, which are rarely reported to the state.

Wastewater monitoring also shows higher levels of coronavirus across the state, including Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Durango, a state analysis updated this week shows. Super-transmissible omicron sub-variants like BA.2.12.1 are driving this latest wave of infection. The BA.2.12.1 variant made up nearly 6 out of 10 cases, according to data from the last week of May, the most recent figures available. 

Deaths have increased, though not to levels seen earlier in the pandemic. Among COVID-19 cases, 43 people died in Colorado hospitals the week of May 29. That was the most for a week since early March but far below the levels seen during previous surges. For example, in the last week of November in 2020, when 465 people died, the most for any week during the pandemic.

The recent deaths pushed Colorado's grim COVID-19 death toll up to 13,349. 

Cases have also been rising in recent weeks, with the daily number jumping above 2,000 five times in a little more than a month. On June 9, the state recorded 3,546 cases, a rate of 62 cases per 100,000, numbers not seen since early February as the huge winter omicron wave of infection was receding.