Half of Colorado residents who are 70 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, health officials announced Wednesday, two days after the state started allowing teachers and slightly younger people to get the shot.

About 27,000 people between the ages of 65 and 69 have been vaccinated since Monday, Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander, said at a news conference. He didn’t give an estimate of the number of people working in the education and child care sectors who have gotten a shot, though the state has pledged to set aside about 30,000 doses for them each week.

Colorado will continue to prioritize the 70-and-up population, which is disproportionately likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, Bookman said. He didn’t specify how they would do that, though.

Federal agencies announced that states and retail pharmacies will get more doses than expected in the coming weeks, Bookman said. He didn’t lay out any changes to the state’s vaccination timeline, citing uncertainty, but said it could accelerate if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes Johnson & Johnson’s new vaccine.

“We do see some hope here,” he said.

Cases and hospitalizations continue declining in Colorado, though the rate at which they’re falling is leveling out, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said.

It’s something like if you set aside $1,000 a month to pay down your debt for the first few months, then reduced it to $500, then maybe $300. Your debt is still going down, but it’s going to take you longer to pay it off than if you kept putting $1,000 toward it each month.

The state has found 41 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, a more-contagious type of the virus first discovered in the United Kingdom. So far, there’s no sign that it’s spreading widely in Colorado, though it may be in California and Florida, Herlihy said. We don’t know if the variant might spread in the United States, where new cases are going down at the moment, because it took off in the United Kingdom while cases were increasing there, she said.

About one-third of COVID-19 tests in Colorado have the ability to detect that a sample could contain the B.1.1.7 variant, versus just labeling the sample as positive for COVID-19, Herlihy said. That’s enough to have a sense of how widespread the variant is, she said.

Regardless of how much the variant is spreading, it’s important to continue wearing masks and limiting close contacts with people you don’t live with, Herlihy said.

“The strategies we’ve been using the last few months are the strategies that are going to be effective against the variants,” she said. “If we’re able to maintain those, we might actually see very little impact from the variants.”

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