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On Friday, Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order amending and extending the current COVID-19 disaster declaration to include RSV, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses.

Courtesy photo. Washington State Public Health.

The disaster declaration allows agencies to continue to access state and federal funding for recovery efforts, to rapidly respond to changes in the public health environment, and to support the healthcare system to remain appropriately staffed and prepared to respond to public health. The amendment allows the Colorado Department of Insurance (DOI) to issue emergency rules to reduce administrative burdens on transfers, including pre-authorization requirements, to ensure Coloradans receive necessary healthcare.

The prospect of a trifecta of these three illnesses circulating at once in communities has public health officials worried about the elderly and children. Pediatricians in particular are warning that in many parts of the country pediatric care hospital beds are filling up and their ability to care for seriously-ill children (especially infants) is being strained, not just by the availability of beds, but pediatric staffing. As of Friday, 77 percent of pediatric intensive care beds are full.

After two years of COVID-19 pandemic health precautions and wearing facemasks, the current wide-open environment is exposing children to viruses that they have not had exposure to before, especially the RSV respiratory virus, for which there is as yet no vaccine.