Colorado COVID-19 hospitalizations hit 2021 high despite early vaccination successes

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado hit their highest levels of 2021, baffling some experts as virus cases and hospitalizations decline nationally, Fox affiliate KDVR reported Nov. 1.

Currently, 1,236 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide, with 90 additional patients hospitalized with possible COVID-19 cases, according to state data.

Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth facilities have been at capacity for weeks, Richard Zane, MD, emergency medicine physician and chief innovation officer at UCHealth, said Nov. 1. 

"We simply don't have room for regular care," Dr. Zane told KDVR.

On Oct. 31, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order authorizing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to allow hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer patients or halt admission of patients. Mr. Polis referenced an increase in COVID-19 cases, as well as the roughly 20 percent of Coloradans who have yet to get the vaccine. Because of these factors, he said the number of people seeking medical treatment may exceed capacity.

Scott Bookman, the state's COVID-19 incident commander, said capacity varies by hospital, with Colorado's overall hospital capacity around 90 percent.

Cara Welch, senior director of communications for the Colorado Hospital Association, told KDVR, "I think we're all a little unsure of why our COVID numbers continue to go up when we see other states are seeing a decrease. Certainly, our weather, we're all moving back indoors again, and that helps the virus spread."

"Since Colorado was one of the few states to have early and aggressive vaccination, we are seeing that immunity may be waning off for a certain subset of the population and possibly causing more breakthrough infection that may be contributing partially do this," said Jaya Kumar, MD, chief medical officer at Englewood, Colo.-based Swedish Medical Center.

According to state data, unvaccinated individuals account for about 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations. 


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