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Colorado one of the Leading States in the Nation in New COVID-19 Cases Per Capita as Hospital Beds Fill

Kids tested for COVID. Image courtesy of NBC News

It doesn’t matter that COVID-19 case are falling across most of the rest of the nation — they aren’t in Colorado which now ranks fifth in the nation for growth in COVID cases.

As concerning as the fact that most are unvaccinated, is the large numbers of children ages 5 to 11 testing positive for COVID. With the vaccines just approved for this age group, the state is hopeful that more children can be protected.

An interactive COVID-19 map provided by The New York Times this morning reveals the news Colorado public health experts have feared.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/colorado-covid-cases.html

Cases Per day 2,848
Avg. Per 100,000 49
Percent Increase +23%
Daily hospitalized for COVID-19 1,330
Per 100,000 23
14-day change +14%
Avg. daily deaths 25.3
Deaths Per 100,000 .44
Percent vaccinated 62%

On Wednesday the Colorado Hospital Association announced that with the state’s 1,600 hospital beds filling fast, that it is moving to the highest level of its plan to ease transfers between hospitals. Even during the worst of the deadly COVID-19 surge in fall and winter of 2020, this wasn’t done. Last Thursday, 1,167 of those beds were filled. Today it’s 1,330 full beds. Many medical facilities have reported being over 90 percent capacity, with severe staffing shortages.

But yesterday, the transfer status jumped from Tier I, which it has been operating under since August, 2021, directly to Tier III.

Colorado hospitals moved to Tier I in August when COVID-19 cases began increasing when the more-transmissible Delta variant of the virus took over. According to Cara Welch, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association, Tier 1 was similar to a “buddy system,” that paired smaller hospitals with hospital networks with more resources to coordinate transfers.

Skipping Tier II is actually a rather big deal. Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations were at their highest point of 2021 on Wednesday this week. While Tier II would have involved coordinating transfers on a regional level, the state chose to escalate the response to the next level, where hospital leaders across Colorado will be working together, said Welch. “We need to be able to move patients where there are resources.”

The purpose is to try to keep patients as close to home as possible, which avoid unnecessarily long trips that tie up ambulances, or puts patients long distances from their families. That’s the goal — it’s not a guarantee.

On Wednesday state hospitalizations with confirmed cases of COVID rose again, to 1,280 new people, and today, have reached 1,330, the highest number since Dec. 20 of 2020, receiving care across the state for confirmed cases of  COVID-19. The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment says that more than 80 percent of them are unvaccinated.

Also as of Nov. 3:

  • The state had 607 active outbreaks.
  • Schools accounted for the largest share of those outbreaks: 242
  • 79 of the outbreaks are in nursing homes (this includes Columbine Manor in Chaffee County)
  • 77 of the outbreaks are in assisted living facilities

Last week Governor Jared Polis announced five preparatory steps that might need to be taken if Colorado’s COVID cases continued to rise. An executive order, signed on Sunday by Polis, allowed hospitals to redirect incoming patients. Also on Sunday, he announced that the state will request federal medical surge teams be prepped if needed in the state.