Colorado COVID-19 outbreak could peak April 17, modeling shows

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says the state has slowed the rate of COVID-19 transmission from doubling every two days to doubling every five days.

However, he said that’s not enough if the state wants to prevent hospitals from being crushed with too many patients at once.

New modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggest Colorado could reach the peak of the coronavirus outbreak on April 17.

If that were to happen, the IHME predicts the state would be 750 intensive care unit beds short of what it needs.

It also would need 1,043 ventilators. On Friday, Polis said Colorado only has 900 ventilators.

The IHME also suggests that Colorado’s daily death count would climb to 84 on April 17, with more than 2,100 deaths recorded by early August.

“It wouldn’t be so good to peak in mid-April,” said Kathryn Colborn, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Colborn is the director of Surgical Outcomes and Applied Research at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

She said hospitals need time to convert regular beds to ICU beds and to acquire ventilators.

As social distancing ramps up, Colborn is confident Colorado can delay its peak until June.

“If we keep this measures in place, then we can assume that we can push the peak out to June or later,” she said.

That would be good news. But Colborn cautions the IHME model that shows Colorado peaking April 17 also shows the rate of deaths and hospitalizations dropping as fast as they rose, which she said isn’t realistic.

“We’re not going to wipe out the virus by self-isolating for a couple of months. There will still be infected people out there,” she said.

That’s why Colborn believes wide-spread testing is key, to isolate those who test positive.

As of noon Monday, Colorado has more than 2,600 known positive cases.

Based on 414 hospitalizations, Colborn says modeling predicts the true number of infected patients in Colorado stands at more than 9,400. The data is based on the belief that 4.4% of all COVID-19 patients end up hospitalized.

 “If things increase the way they have been in Colorado, we’re probably going to exceed bed capacity,” acknowledged Colborn, who said it’ll take at least two to three weeks to see if social distancing now slows the rate of spread later this month.

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