COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Data shows El Paso County has more than double the amount of COVID-19 variant cases compared to other large counties in Colorado.
Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows the state has 2,819 people in El Paso County who have contracted a variant of the COVID-19 virus since the pandemic began.
Arapahoe County, which has about 50,000 fewer people, has the second-largest number of variants in the state, with 1,409 people contracting a mutation of the virus. In Denver County, 1,381 residents have tested positive for one of four COVID-19 variants, data shows.
“What viruses do well is they replicate and save themselves. So what we’ve seen is versions of the virus that are just more efficient at replicating," Stephen Goodwin with EPC Public Health said.
El Paso County health leaders are closely monitoring the emerging variants. The variants are more contagious and can cause more severe cases, according to public health officials.
“When we look at Europe, and we look at the UK’s experience, we saw how rapidly the Delta variants took over from the alpha variant, and we suspect we are going to see the same thing here. So what the means is that we are fighting against the increased transmissibility of the disease," Goodwin explained.
Health officials say those who are fully vaccinated typically do not have a severe reaction if they contract COVID-19 and can usually avoid a trip to the hospital.
“Don’t want to be a boy who cried wolf, but basically these variants are just better at spreading. So the same behaviors you used to avoid disease may be less effective in the presence of these variants.”
Current data shows 5 out 10 El Paso County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Statewide data shows 7 out of 10 Coloradans are at least partially vaccinated.