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Nearly 1 in 4 Denverites testing positive for COVID-19
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COVID-19 cases are at a record high in Denver. Of those getting tested, nearly 25 percent are receiving a positive test.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock provides a COVID-19 update January 4, 2022.
Credit: Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Facebook

DENVER — Three days after testing positive for COVID-19, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock held a remote press conference to address the concerning trends the city is seeing, many of which are being driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.

Hancock tested positive for COVID-19 on January 1. The mayor, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, said he is only experiencing mild symptoms similar to those of a cold. He attributed that to his vaccination status.

Many Denverites are in a similar situation. During the January 4 briefing, Hancock said Denver is currently experiencing its highest COVID-19 case rate since the start of the pandemic. The positivity rate is also at a record high, with nearly 1 in 4 COVID-19 tests coming back positive.

[Related: More than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with COVID over the long holiday weekend]

While hospitalizations have not risen at the same pace in Denver, hospital capacity remains “razor thin,” Hancock said.

"Get boosted as soon as you are qualified," Hancock continued. "It will keep you out of the hospital if you do get COVID like I did."

Although breakthrough cases like Hancock’s have become more common due to Omicron, a large majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated. Statewide, about 78% of current COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated people.

Omicron is believed to cause more mild cases, but Denver Department of Public Health and Environment director Dr. Bob McDonald said unvaccinated people especially should not count on that being the case for them if they become infected.

"This virus [...] will continue to take the lives of primarily unvaccinated people," McDonald said.

McDonald said "it's just pure math" that Omicron will infect vaccinated people due to its transmissibility. But he added that those cases will overwhelmingly be mild or asymptomatic. McDonald and Hancock also reminded Denverites of the public health orders and isolation guidelines that are currently in place, which you can see below.

To read more about the public health order, click here.

Medical experts at the Tuesday press conference agreed that Coloradans will have to vaccinate their way out of the pandemic. "We wouldn't be having this conversation right now … if everybody would get vaccinated," McDonald said.

Dr. Connie Price, the chief medical officer for Denver Health, said, "this pandemic will not end with the virus disappearing." More people need to get vaccinated and boosted, she explained.

To find a vaccine clinic near you, click here.

National Western Stock Show in Denver to go on

As Denver reaches record high levels of COVID-19, the city is about to host thousands of people for the National Western Stock Show. Their website says about 700,000 people attend the stock show every year during, “the best 16 days in January.”

Last year, the Stock Show was canceled because of COVID-19. During that time the National Western Complex served as a place for mass vaccinations and a temporary place for those experiencing homelessness. 

 As mentioned above, the city is under a mask mandate that was extended through February 3. So attendees for the National Western Stock Show will have to wear masks in all indoor spaces, mainly the rodeo arena and horse show arena. The Stock Show also applied and received a variance from CDPHE for vaccine requirements, meaning proof of vaccination will not be required to attend. 

The National Western Stock Show runs from January 8 through January 23.

Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

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