Governor Jared Polis’ scheduled 1pm press conference on COVID-19 today, Nov.
A graphic that dominated the article read “BREAKING NEWS: OMICRON DETECTED IN COLORADO”. Then, after a line stressing “No time to panic, a time to be careful,” the Post quoted Polis as saying, “It is especially important that the residents of Coloradans exercise caution and get a booster dose , wear a mask in indoor public places, limit large gatherings, wash your hands frequently, get tested for symptoms or exposure, and practice physical distance. ”
Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a press release confirming the Omicron variant – the third such example in the United States after the mutation was discovered in California and Minnesota. The CDPHE announced that the individual in question is an adult woman from Arapahoe County who recently traveled as a tourist to southern Africa, where Omicron or B.1.1.529 was first identified last month. She currently has mild symptoms and is isolated and recovering at home – and although she was fully vaccinated, she had not yet received a booster vaccination for which she was eligible.
The health department added that the Colorado State Public Health Laboratory “performed genome sequencing on the sample and confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant. The World Health Organization has classified it as a worrying variant.
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Polis and Colorado Senior Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy, went over these facts and added more details. For example, Herlihy announced that the infected woman was visiting several countries in Africa and returned to the United States via Denver International Airport late last week. The patient was not sick on arrival but developed symptoms the next day or so. After testing positive for COVID-19, her case was reported because of her travel history. Herlihy added that the woman wore masks during her flights and that none of her close contacts have tested positive so far.
For his part, Polis stressed that we don’t know much about the Omicron variant, including whether it is more communicable than the original strain of the disease or the Delta variant (although there are early signs that it can spread rapidly); if it causes fewer, more, or a similar number of severe cases; and the degree of effectiveness of vaccines against it. He predicted that in “weeks, not months”, scientists will better understand the possibilities.
Right now, Colorado hospital admissions appear to be declining from the most recent high. There are currently 1,400 people hospitalized with COVID in the state, and 1,152 of them, or approximately 82 percent, are unvaccinated. The critical shortage of intensive care beds has eased somewhat, but Polis acknowledged the situation remains worrying.
After Polis encouraged people to get vaccinated or boostered, discussed the easy availability of vaccinations (Ball Arena will be making them available at a number of events), and the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments, Polis invited questions . During that session, he and Herlihy both praised the Tri-County’s Department of Health, which took the lead in identifying the variant, and noted that a wastewater analysis showed that Omicron does not appear to be spreading to the Colorado community level.