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Snowy Longs Peak and Downtown Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock).

DENVER (AP) — Colorado has seen a decrease in coronavirus transmission among young adults in recent weeks but an increase in infections and hospitalizations among older residents, the state epidemiologist said Tuesday.

If unchecked, the rise could amplify ahead of the holiday season with its in-person gatherings and interactions between the young and old, Dr. Rachel Herlihy told a news briefing.

People older than 60 and those with pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to the virus than the young, who often are asymptomatic but can transmit the disease.

The Sentinel reports that Herlihy said there were 246 people currently hospitalized in Colorado due to the virus — up from 170 on Sept. 22. New cases among people 18 to 25 years old dropped by 45% over the past two weeks, reflecting progress in stemming outbreaks at the state’s universities and colleges, Herlihy said.

Both Herlihy and Gov. Jared Polis again emphasized mask-wearing and social distancing to bring the numbers down.

Polis cited President Donald Trump’s handling of his own coronavirus infection as going in a “wrong and divisive direction.”

Trump was hospitalized for three days before returning to the White House while still infectious on Monday. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he said in a Tweet.

“It’s been challenging to watch,” Polis, a Democrat, said of Trump’s messaging.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. More than 73,000 cases have been reported in Colorado and more than 1,900 people have died.

Meanwhile, a ministry organization that sued Polis over a virus-induced cap on religious gatherings hosted an event over the summer in defiance of public health orders that led to as many as 63 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death, state records show.

A Bible conference hosted around July 4 by Andrew Wommack Ministries in Woodland Park brought people from around the country. Roughly 800 to 1,000 people attended the conference.

The ministry organization sued the state ahead of a Pastor’s Conference that was scheduled to start Monday. Wommack and his ministry argued a state cap of 175 people at religious events is unconstitutional.

A U.S. District Court judge denied the organization’s request last week. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the ministry’s request on Monday. The overall lawsuit is still pending, the Denver Post reported.

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