Colorado’s COVID surge offers cautionary tale for California, epidemiologist says


California is entering the holiday season with an uncertain outlook. Optimistically, new weekly coronavirus cases have become stable statewide; the vaccination rate is higher than in many other states, and there are few signs right now of a big winter surge.

But the deteriorating conditions in Colorado offer a cautionary tale of how things can go south quickly, even in a state where many residents are vaccinated.

Colorado “may be a precursor to what we could see ultimately here in California as things get cooler for us,” UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Robert Kim-Farley said. Chillier weather hits Colorado earlier than California, sending people indoors, “which leads to higher potential for transmission of COVID.”

In Colorado, 62.8% of all residents are fully vaccinated, almost identical to California’s 62.7%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the differences in weekly case rates are stark: CDC data show California currently has the 10th lowest out of all states, and Colorado has the eighth highest.

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