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Larimer County Warns Of Increased Hospitalizations As Delta Variant Spreads: 'It Is Concerning'

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Health officials in Larimer County are warning of an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations after cases doubled in recent weeks. At the end of June, the county hit a pandemic-low of 22 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. This week, the county reports nearly 50 cases per 100,000.

"It's not over. Not over," said Jared Olson, Population Epidemiologist for Larimer County's Health Department. "We were seeing really consistent declines before we saw the delta variant. Since then, we have more than doubled. We have seen growth."

Jared Olson, Population Epidemiologist for Larimer County's Health Department (credit: CBS)

Olson said the numbers, which are still drastically low compared to the height of the pandemic, should still serve as concern to the community, especially to those who are not fully vaccinated. Olson said the majority of positive COVID-19 cases his office has reviewed are linked to those who are unvaccinated, or those who have not received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

"We still have 40% plus of our population that is unvaccinated at this point," Olson told CBS4's Dillon Thomas. "Even against the delta variant the vaccines we have available in Larimer County offer a high degree of protection from severe disease, hospitalizations and death."

(credit: CBS)

Olson acknowledged that the ever-spreading delta variant is also causing some people who are fully vaccinated to become ill. However most fully-vaccinated people who have tested positive for the virus reported very mild symptoms.

Olson said the Larimer County community, and many others, could expect to see an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths if large portions of the community still resist getting their vaccines.

"We may see an uptick in hospitalizations. And, we may see more disruptions than we were seeing even just a month ago," Olson said. "We want to see as many people vaccinated as possible to limit the places this virus can go. When it runs in to a well vaccinated group, it peters out pretty quickly."

(credit: CBS)

So far around 44% of kids between the ages of 12 and 15 in Larimer County have had their vaccinations. A larger percentage of kids between 16 and 17 have been vaccinated. Olson said increasing those rates by 10-to-20% would greatly help the population.

"(The increase in cases) is concerning. But, we are not at the same point we were in December or January, nor do we expect to be back at that point, because of the level of vaccination and all the hard work the community has done," Olson said.

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