Despite speculation in social media circles and at the dinner table that the Thanksgiving Holiday may cause a spike of COVID-19 cases, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released data Wednesday which actually showed a slight decline.
The data, relevant for the week of Nov. 20, showed there were 7,476 cases reported by CDPHE last week, a drop of 399 compared to the week Nov. 13. Additionally, the seven-day moving average of cases declined by 57.
However, the reduction in positivity rate didn't appear to ease apprehension among CDPHE officials.
"The percent positivity of COVID-19 in Colorado did decline slightly between the week of 11/6 and 11/13, but overall it has increased substantially in the last few weeks," a spokesperson said in a statement provided to the Denver Gazette. "Cases and hospitalizations in Colorado have also increased in the last few weeks, likely because of new omicron sub variants circulating in the state."
The new data showed a total of 789 new hospital admissions, up 96 from the week of Nov. 13. Data also showed 53 more people remained checked in with hospitals. The total hospitalized stands at 440.
While the new cases declined, CDPHE remained cautious, especially due to increases observed in cases of other respiratory diseases like influenza and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
"Flu seasons can be unpredictable, and we are seeing an early increase in test positivity and hospitalizations," the spokesperson said. "This mirrors what was seen in some parts of the southern hemisphere during their flu season this summer and in parts of the United States prior to the start of Colorado’s increase, indicating this may be a more early and active flu season than is typical in Colorado."
State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy provided a briefing on Colorado's case numbers for COVID-19, RSV and the flu during a press conference on Nov. 21.
The best defense against the flu and COVID-19 remains the same: Vaccination. Even though a vaccine may not grant full immunity to COVID-19 or the flu, it can dramatically reduce the effect symptoms have. A vaccine can mean the difference between life and death, or hospitalization and isolating at home.
Coloradans are advised to get tested for COVID-19 if they experience any symptoms of the virus. If a test comes back positive, isolate. Treatments for COVID-19 exist, and CDPHE says they are highly effective.
"Even if you test negative, stay home when sick," the department said. "This is important to preventing the spread of viruses and causing outbreaks."
As COVID-19 has evolved to multiple variants, notably the omicron variant, vaccines have as well, according to CDPHE. Anyone age five or older who has recieved a first and second dose can get an omicron booster.
Anyone aged six months or older are advised to get their annual flu shot as well.
Information on where to find a COVID-19 vaccine and/or flu shot can be found online. The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and there are resources to find a free flu vaccine.