Colorado’s COVID-19 modeling team released a new report Friday night warning that if nothing changes, 1,393 people could be hospitalized with the virus by the end of November.
It took less than three days to surpass this forecast.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment said Monday afternoon that 283 people had been admitted to hospitals across the state with the virus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 to 1,394.
This figure was offset by the fact that 185 people with COVID-19 were discharged or reduced to treatment during the same period. But that’s still a net one day increase of 98 people hospitalized with the virus, bringing Colorado to levels not seen since Dec. 17.
This surge in COVID hospitalizations could possibly be a reflection of some delayed reports over the weekend, but even so, it’s a bad sign, said Beth Carlton, an assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and a member of the simulation reporting team. …
“This is a sign that things are not getting better,” she said.
Colorado hospitals are already overwhelmed, with about one-third saying they expect a shortage of intensive care beds in the coming week. The number of beds available in intensive care units across the state, which is being delayed by a day, dropped from 84 on Friday to 80 on Sunday. By comparison, the state had over 400 intensive care unit beds in the summer of 2020 during the relatively slow period of the pandemic.
“Things are tense in Colorado and in many parts of the state,” Gov. Jared Polis said at a press conference on Monday. “We are now experiencing a peak that many other regions of the country experienced a month or two ago. We have fewer than 100 emergency beds left across the state. And then there are children hospitalized with COVID. While we are talking, 25 children. “
The state has already put in place three of five strategies recently listed by Polis as options to protect hospital throughput: asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send medical teams; requiring hospitals to admit any transferred patient they may serve; and expanding access to monoclonal antibody treatment, which reduces the likelihood of hospitalization for people at high risk for COVID-19.
The governor also suggested that the state could order all non-emergency surgeries to end or allow overcrowded hospitals to restrict medical care. So far, only cosmetic surgeries have been suspended.
The state reported 19,554 new cases of COVID-19 last week, and the percentage of positive test results increased, averaging more than 9% over the past week. Cases, hospitalizations and positives were at their highest in the past week since mid-December.
State Department of Health Issues Statement Requesting COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine; re-vaccinate if they are eligible; wear a mask in closed public places; avoid large gatherings; stay home if they feel unwell; and wash your hands often.
“The current case and hospital rates are worrying and should be a reminder of the urgent need for vaccinations,” the spokeswoman said.
Carlton estimates that the COVID-19 model that extrapolates from hospitalization data estimated that about one in every 48 Colorado people had been infected with the virus as of November 2. This compares to the worst moments of the infection spike last fall.
There is no clear explanation for the current surge. According to Carlton, most of the hospitalizations are in parts of the state with low vaccination rates, which indicates the greatest danger to unvaccinated people. A growing database suggests that immunity weakens over time, which is why people who were vaccinated or recovered from the virus more than six months ago are at increased risk of the disease. Cool weather also contributes to the spread of respiratory viruses, she said.
“Unvaccinated people are at really high risk,” she said.
The report predicted that if trends continue in late October, about 1,400 people could be hospitalized with COVID-19 by the end of November, although that number could be higher or lower, depending on what precautions Colorado residents take in the coming weeks.
According to the worst-case scenario, about 1,700 people will be hospitalized by mid-December. That’s not as bad as the peak of 1,847 in December 2020, but hospitals also have fewer options than they did at the end of last year. More and more patients are hospitalized for other illnesses that have been exacerbated by delayed care, and some nurses and other staff have retired or moved to other jobs.
“As we get closer to hospital capacity, it affects all of us,” because beds may not be available for other needs, Carlton said. “That’s what makes this wave so scary.”
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