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Polis says state will exceed hospital capacity by end of year if COVID keeps surging

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October 28, 2020, 9:52 am

The state of Colorado put out a pair of press releases on Tuesday underscoring the dire nature of the current COVID-19 surge. Gov. Jared Polis warned that if current trends continue, the state will exceed its hospital capacity by the end of the year. Here’s the first release:

Jared Polis
Gov. Jared Polis

DENVER — Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic today. Gov. Polis was joined by three COVID-19 survivors who shared their personal stories about their experience, challenges, and lingering health issues stemming from COVID-19. Scott Bookman, CDPHE’s COVID19 Incident Commander also provided an important update on hospitalization data. 

“I hope this is a wake-up call and Coloradans heed the advice of COVID survivors like Barbara, Kim, Clarence, and many others who are dealing with the health and personal challenges that stem from this deadly virus,” said Governor Polis. “The trends are unsustainable and these numbers are very concerning. If these trends continue, we will exceed May hospitalization numbers — the peak of our first wave — by next month, and the most recent modeling predicts that we’ll exceed all of our existing hospital capacity by the end of the year. There’s time to fix this by staying safer at home, signing up for Exposure Notifications, wearing a mask when you have to be out, avoiding groups, and washing your hands regularly.”

Governor Polis was joined by three COVID-19 survivors who shared their powerful stories.

“I don’t recognize myself,” said Barbara, who spent 91 days in the hospital, 65 of which were spent on a ventilator. “This is a serious illness and I never said ‘why me?’ because the answer is really ‘why not me? We just don’t know and for people who think they are immune or won’t get as sick: you just don’t know so it’s important to be very careful.” 

“I was always on the go, I was a runner and I often would drive my partner nuts because I would race to the top of the mountain because that’s just who I was,” said Kim, a COVID survivor and family nurse practitioner while sharing her experience. “Today, anything more than a slow walk to the mailbox requires oxygen. I haven’t been able to do many of the things that used to bring me joy – I can’t run, go to the mountains, I haven’t regained the stamina or grip to play my drums again. It’s affected every organ system in my body and every person in my life.”

“I can’t commend the people at UC Health enough, they’ve really worked wonders in my eyes. I think the other thing that sticks with me is when I hear certain people say that this isn’t real, or it’s just a bad cold or flu or even that it’s a hoax, I find that very distributing because it’s so much more than that. It’s 100% real and we can’t do too much to be safe and protect ourselves and protect those around us,” said Clarence, a COVID survivor who shared his story today. “I don’t wish this on anyone.”

Incident Commander Bookman discussed hospitalization data. The dashboard provides greater insight into hospital capacity, detailing regional hospital data by Regional EMS / Trauma Advisory Councils. The orange line represents the number of staffed ICU beds each day at time of reporting. The blue line represents the number of those staffed beds that are not in-use at time of reporting, representing availability for any critical care patient. The dashboard is updated daily at 10 a.m.

“We want to do everything we can to avoid overwhelming our hospitals,” said Scott Bookman, CDPHE COVID19 Incident Commander. “However, we have been preparing the Colorado healthcare system since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure the best possible scenario for Coloradans.”

This week, CDPHE launched the COVID-19 Exposure Notification System to increase the effectiveness of contact tracing. You can see more about it at addyourphone.com This is a new feature on your phone that notifies you if you may have been exposed to someone contagious with COVID-19. By opting in, your Android or iPhone device will share anonymous tokens with other CO Exposure Notifications users using your phone’s Bluetooth. If another user you’ve been near tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, the service will notify you.

View today’s presentation. View today’s news conference.

Here’s the state’s second press release issued Tuesday:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) updated the Safer at Home public health order tonight. The order provides greater flexibility to gyms located in counties in Safer at Home level 3. 

Gyms will be allowed to operate with the following capacity limits per room indoors or per designated activity area outdoors: 

Safer at Home 1 →  25% capacity, 75 people, whichever is fewer.   

Safer at Home 2 →  25% capacity, 50 people, whichever is fewer. 

UPDATED: Safer at Home 3 →  25% capacity, 25 people, whichever is fewer.

The change comes after feedback from stakeholders and local public health agencies, as well as assessing case interview and outbreak data. 

Colorado’s dial framework standardizes different levels of “openness” at the county level. Coloradans can learn more about each county by visiting the dial dashboard

In addition to the counties listed in the earlier press release, Kit Carson will move to Safer at Home 2 tomorrow. 

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

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