Colorado COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise; Thanksgiving impact still unknown

Rate of increase may be slowing down

Meg Wingerter / Denver Post
Anesthesiologist Sean O’Connor stands over a patient during a procedure at National Jewish Health on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.
AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post

Colorado hit another new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations Monday, showing the fall surge isn’t over despite some encouraging signs.

Statewide, 1,834 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and 106 others were receiving hospital care for COVID-like symptoms but had test results pending.

The rate of growth in hospitalizations has slowed in recent days, which is a positive sign, but it would be better to see the number falling before people who may have been infected on Thanksgiving start to become seriously ill, said Julie Lonborg, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association.

“These surges are going to build on each other, so to the extent that we get any time in between (surges) to slow it down, it’s a big help,” she said.

Typically, it takes at least a week for any impact from a holiday to show up, because most people don’t develop symptoms immediately. Hospitalizations tend to rise about two weeks after an event where people spread the virus, and deaths may not show up in the data until a month or longer after the event.

The number of infected people is still increasing, but not as fast as it was a week or two ago, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health. That means the odds that any particular person you meet is infected will continue to increase, even as the trajectory shows some signs of flattening, she said.

“The foot is still on the accelerator, but we’re not accelerating as fast,” she said.

Hospitals are managing so far by sharing staff with sister facilities or calling on agencies they contract with, Lonborg said. They also are transferring patients to facilities that have more space and staff available, she said.

About 79% of intensive-care beds and 81% of beds for general medical care were in use Monday, which was about the same as a week earlier. A 2017 report from the Colorado Hospital Association showed that on a typical day, about half of all hospital beds in the state were full. It didn’t break out how many intensive-care beds were in use in normal times.

To read the rest of the Denver Post article, click here.

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