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New state report: Colorado could exceed ICU capacity for COVID-19 by December

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October 6, 2020, 4:24 pm

A new modeling report indicates an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Colorado that could lead to the state exceeding its ICU capacity as early as December. Here’s the press release on the new report:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) today released a new modeling report indicating an increase in hospitalizations and in the estimated number of Coloradans who currently are infectious. If Colorado remains on the current trajectory of its epidemic curve, state epidemiologists predict continued growth in cases and increased demand on hospitals.

Given the rise in cases after both Independence Day and Labor Day, the report evaluates what might happen if people have more social contact than usual beginning the Friday before Thanksgiving and lasting through the new year. With this assumption, an increase in cases during and after the holidays as projected could be substantial. At the higher projections, the state could be at risk for exceeding its ICU capacity as early as December unless Coloradans continue to take and maintain prevention measures.

However, the impact of increased social contact over the winter holidays depends on the disease spread between now and Thanksgiving. Controlling infections in October and November can help reduce the severity of any holiday bump. 

Other key findings from the report:

  • Focal points of increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations include the East Central and Metro local public health agency regions. Other regions continue to see declining or stable hospitalizations.
  • The estimated effective reproductive number has risen over the last month. The current number is estimated to be between 1.21 and 1.27. This estimate reflects transmission through approximately Sept. 15.
  • From Sept. 1-15, the estimated level of social distancing was 59%.
  • An estimated 1 in 850 Coloradans are currently infectious. This is an increase compared to the prior week.
  • An estimated 5% of Coloradans have been infected with COVID-19 to date. 
  • Colorado’s current trajectory indicates continued growth in cases and hospital demand, but epidemiologists do not expect to come close to exceeding hospital or ICU capacity in the next month.

ColoradoSPH assembled the expert group that works with the state on modeling projections. The group includes modeling scientists at ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University. 

All modeling reports are available on the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 website. 

The state will continue to review data and model findings as the pandemic continues to inform future policy decisions. 

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