Colorado’s top pandemic official downplays the possibility of reinstating a statewide mask ban or other restrictions to suppress the state’s fifth wave of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment said the state is preparing for the possibility of new mandates if local health departments and individual businesses do not act to contain the spread of the virus.
Scott Bookman, State Commander for the COVID-19 Incident, said Wednesday that decisions must be made at the local level as there are varying levels of transmission across counties. According to him, it has not been established that any particular point, such as the percentage of available hospital beds falling below a certain threshold, would trigger government intervention.
“We continue to believe that local control and local orders are the best way to ensure that the right mitigation measures are taken,” he said.
The state is continuing talks with hospitals and local health departments on how to cope with the rise in COVID-19 infections, Bookman said. As an example of leadership, he pointed to Larimer County’s decision to reinstate the mask’s mandate last week.
Over the past week, Colorado had an average of 959 emergency beds in use in general hospitals and about 125 intensive care beds available on any given day, Buckman said. There were about 1,800 emergency beds available at the December peak, he said, because while there were more COVID-19 patients, fewer people were in the hospital due to accidents or other illnesses.
“At this point, we are starting to see real, real limited bandwidth in many parts of the state,” he said.
So far, there are no signs that the situation is about to change, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihee. According to her, the percentage of positive test results has increased, which suggests that in the near future the number of cases and hospitalizations will increase.
School-aged children aged 5 to 17 still have the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases, followed by adults, Herliha said. The incidence in young children is lower and relatively stable, she said.
“For children aged 12 to 17, many of these cases are preventable,” she said.
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