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Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Vail Health hospital is full primarily with non-COVID-19 patients who are being transferred from hospitals around the state that are full with COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated.
Vail Health CEO Will Cook on Wednesday said the local hospital is pretty much full of patients right as Vail Mountain opens on Friday and welcomes back the world.
But it’s not because of the locals, who are more than 80% percent vaccinated in Eagle County.
“We’re still in pandemic mode until we get enough herd immunity, and I’m not talking about this valley,” Cook said of the need for more people around the state, country and globe to get the proven, safe and thoroughly tested COVID-19 vaccines.
Colorado as whole is only about 62% fully vaccinated, and Eagle County (81%) and other ski counties are way ahead of that mark. The state on Tuesday adopted crisis standards of care for staffing shortages and overcrowding in Colorado hospitals, where fewer than 100 ICU beds were available on Wednesday.
Vail Health has been taking non-COVID patients from other hospitals around the state that are full with COVID-19 patients.
“Right now, we’re full with patients, but they’re not from the valley,” Cook told the Vail Symposium’s State of the Vail Valley on Wednesday. “They’re transfers from Alamosa and Montrose and Denver, and they’re doing it because there’s no more beds available throughout the state of Colorado and we’re all leaning in, but I’m telling you if the rest of the counties and the rest of the state would do what we’ve done [in terms of getting vaccinated] I don’t think we’d be in this bed crisis, so thank you to all of you who made that happen.”
Cook said, politics aside, the simple facts are that more than 90% of the people in ICU’s around the state are unvaccinated, and that 99% of the 25 or so people a day dying from the disease in Colorado right now are unvaccinated.
COVID-19 infections have been on the rise in recent days in Eagle County, with 65 new covid infections Monday and Tuesday alone. Still, out of a year-round population of 55,000 people, just 32 have died from the disease in Eagle County since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020.