Briefline

COVID hospitalizations increase in Colorado as they decrease nationwide

By: - October 21, 2021 4:58 pm

Gov. Jared Polis speaks about Colorado’s response to COVID-19 during a news briefing on Oct. 21, 2021. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

While COVID-19 hospitalizations are sharply declining across the United States, Colorado is going on two months of experiencing an increase in the hospitalization rate.

There are 1,130 people in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Oct. 21, Gov. Jared Polis said during a news briefing Thursday, and 893 of those cases, or about 80%, are unvaccinated individuals. 

“This is a very stark reminder to anyone who thought this pandemic was over and that they could slip by without getting vaccinated,” Polis said. “This is a wake up call. If you haven’t been vaccinated, you’re facing a grave threat.”

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Polis said that crisis standards of care are “ready to be implemented if needed, potentially tweaked or improved.” Idaho and New Mexico both recently implemented crisis standards of care.

Hospitalizations are increasing among all age groups, but more rapidly in older populations. State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said during the briefing that could be due to waning immunity in older people who got a vaccine earlier this year.

“It’s an important reminder of the importance of booster doses to protect individuals who are at higher risk of severe disease, especially hospitalization or death,” she said.

There are fewer acute beds available in Colorado now than there were last December, when the state hit its peak COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Dec. 1, 2020, there were 1,845 available hospital beds. Today, there are 934 acute care beds, 120 of which are ICU beds.

“Surgeries are being canceled. Brain surgeries, heart surgeries are being delayed because of a lack of availability to provide care to those patients because of the impact of COVID hospitalizations are going to have,” said Colorado COVID-19 incident commander Scott Bookman during the briefing.

Polis urged those who are vaccinated to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible. Currently, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends that people who are elderly, immunocompromised or work in a high risk setting should get the booster.

“I think you can sense the frustration we have because we have the ability to end the pandemic,” Polis said. “It would be over if we had everybody vaccinated. I wouldn’t be up here. We would be doing other things. But we’re not, because about a quarter of Coloradans have yet to make the decision to protect themselves.”

The governor’s office is expected to present a vaccine implementation plan next week for children under the age of 12, who will likely be eligible to get vaccinated in the coming weeks. The White House on Wednesday announced plans to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to children between ages 5 and 11. 

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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