BY FREDA MIKLIN GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Statewide, 844 providers have administered 1,178,197 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, split evenly between manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, as of February 21. Individually, 797,634 Coloradans have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and 379,144 of those people have gotten both. Although the U.S. Census Bureau tells us that the number of men and women in our state is split 50/50, 61% of all vaccinations have been given to women, compared to 39% to men. That may have to do with the fact that 60% of all vaccinations statewide have been administered to people aged 60 and up. It has long been known that American women overall live to an older age than do men.
U.S. Census Bureau data does not compare very favorably to vaccination data in the area of racial background. As of July 2019, although 68% of Coloradans are Caucasian, that group has received 74% of all COVID-19 vaccinations. More concerning is state data tells us that only 5% of vaccinations have gone to Hispanics, even though they comprise 22% of all Coloradans. People deemed to be black by the U.S. Census Bureau comprise 4% of our state’s population, but have received only 2% of the vaccines administered. Still, the data must be viewed somewhat critically. It is unclear how vaccine recipients’ ethnic heritage was determined. Additionally, a full 15% of all vaccinations were administered to people whose race was not identified.
Locally, the largest number of vaccinations have been given to residents of the state’s three most populated counties. Denver County residents, with 12.7% of the state’s population, have received 149,648 vaccinations. Jefferson County residents, who comprise 10.1% of all Coloradans, have gotten 140,011 doses of the vaccine, and Arapahoe County residents, who together are 11.4% of all Coloradans, have received 120,537 total inoculations. On a per capita basis, the counties with at least five percent of the state’s population that have gotten the highest number of residents vaccinated are Boulder and Larimer Counties.
The total number of people hospitalized in our state with confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of February 21 was 399, the lowest number since October 13, 2020. The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases was 873, the lowest number seen since October 11, 2020.
Focusing locally on the possibility of moving down on the state’s color dial 2.0 to blue from their current position at yellow, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Denver counties are progressing. As of February 21, Arapahoe County’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases was 96.2 and its positivity rate was 3.8%, both well into blue-level range. Only the number of days of declining hospitalizations was still yellow at 9; once it gets to 11, it will be at the blue level.
Denver County’s metrics were all at the blue level. As long as it stays there, Denver can expect to be reclassified to blue on February 27. Douglas County is moving in the right direction, but with a seven-day average of new cases of 128.6, they aren’t quite there yet (blue level requires that number to be less than 100).
At a press conference on February 18, it was announced that all health care workers who wanted the vaccine had received it and educators and those aged 65-69 were well on their way. Although the weather hampered delivery, the state was working 24 hours a day to get back on schedule.
All alternative care sites have been decommissioned in Colorado, according to Kevin Kline, director, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He also said that eight million masks were being delivered to schools to help get in-person learning moving ahead. On February 18, Colorado National Guard Brigadier General Scott Sherman of the state task force shared that the state is expecting 218,000 doses of the vaccine during the week of March 7 and that, “With our current structure, we can handle 300,000-350,000 each week. We are planning to be able to handle more. We don’t know exact amounts past March 7, but we’ll know late next week the amount we’ll get the week of March 14.” In response to a question on the subject of reimbursement for services to vaccine providers, Kline said, “All providers are eligible for FEMA reimbursement. We want to make our providers whole.”