COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to fall in Colorado and are now approaching last summer’s peak, though they need to keep declining for a while to hit last June’s low levels.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 447 people were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon. That’s 35 more than were hospitalized in Colorado at last summer’s peak on July 17.

Hospitalizations still remain above last year’s levels, though. June 2020 had started with nearly 400 people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, but the total fell to a low of 226 by June 27. It rebounded shortly afterward, possibly because of Independence Day celebrations.

New cases of COVID-19 fell substantially last week, with 2,894 reported in the week ending Sunday. Deaths appear to be slowly coming down from a high of 70 in the week ending May 16, though delayed reporting makes it difficult to be certain.

A continued decline in hospitalizations is a positive sign, though it has been “bumpy,” said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health with the Colorado School of Public Health.

Still, it’s important to keep vaccinating more people, because the average number of people being admitted to hospitals each day because of the virus is high compared to last summer, she said.

“We’re at double where we were last summer,” she said.

State health officials have said most of the people being admitted for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

While there is some indication that the virus is better able to spread in cold, dry conditions, that doesn’t mean it’s on vacation until September, Carlton said. The best way people can protect themselves and others is to get vaccinated, she said.

“I think the name of the game this summer is to protect yourself,” she said.

The pace of new vaccinations is down nationwide, from a peak of 3.4 million shots per day in mid-April to fewer than 1 million per day, according to The Washington Post .

The state hasn’t updated vaccination data for the week ending Sunday, though the pattern of declining new shots likely continued. Nearly 2.7 million people in Colorado are fully vaccinated.

Vaccine coverage varies widely within Colorado. More than 70% of eligible people are fully vaccinated in Summit, San Miguel, Mineral and San Juan counties, while less than 20% are in Bent and Crowley counties.

Most Colorado counties have fewer than 5% of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, meaning they’re below the recommended threshold. Twelve have higher positivity rates, though.

Only one, Moffat County, has enough cases that it would have been at Level Orange — just below Level Red — if the state’s color-coded dial framework were still in force. Seven other counties, mostly in the San Luis Valley and on the Western Slope, would be at Level Yellow, the next stage down from Level Orange.

“The state of SARS-CoV-2 varies a lot, depending on where you are,” Carlton said.