By Steven Bonifazi
(MESA COUNTY, Colo.) The first cases of a COVID-19 variant initially recognized in India have been found in Mesa County on Thursday after five people tested positive.
The Denver Post reports that the B.1.617.2 variant contains mutations that may potentially make the virus further contagious while reducing the effectiveness of vaccines, however, the information available is not sufficient to confirm whether or not this is the case. It is also unknown if the vaccines provide reduced protection against the variant.
“The information we have about this variant now is pretty limited,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist.
Residents of Denver will no longer be required to wear masks indoors beginning Friday as long as 80% of people present indoors can show proof of vaccination. Restaurant workers can go without masks as long as 85% of their coworkers are vaccinated.
According to state data, for every 100,000 unvaccinated people, there were 30.2 cases in addition to 2.3 cases for the same number of people who had received a vaccine shot two weeks prior. Governor Jared Polis stated on Thursday that more than 2 million Colorado residents are now fully vaccinated, having received either a second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one Johnson & Johnson shot.
Denver Mayor Micheal B. Hancock announced on Thursday that 63% of Denver residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 45% of those same residents receiving both doses. He also stated that Denver has seen a continued decline in the case and positivity rates, remaining below 5% since the middle of April.