Would more health orders slow COVID hospitalizations? We asked doctors and the governor

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado, and the world in general, looks a lot different this year than it did around this time a year ago.

While positive COVID cases are much lower right now than this time last November, our hospitals are more crowded.

Despite the uptick, it is not clear if Gov. Jared Polis will impose more public health orders because of the availability of vaccines.

Our hospitals are operating in crisis mode. Hospitalizations are higher than they were a year ago, but instead of more orders, doctors and the governor are urging us all to look out for our own health.

Polis is urging Coloradans to be mindful of the virus. Looking back to around this time last year, the state had 1,159 Coloradans battling COVID in hospitals. Now, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 1,426 people in the hospital with COVID Tuesday night.

In 2020, we had the COVID dial. Denver was getting ready to operate under Level Red, banning indoor dining and operating indoor facilities with smaller capacity limits.

We asked the governor if it is time to bring back mandates. He would not rule it out.

“We’re working on additional steps and coordinating with our county health departments to decrease the spread of the disease, but the single biggest factor is individual behavior. People just need to be careful out there,” Polis said.

It is the same message doctors are sharing when we asked them what we can do to help bring down hospitalizations.

“Getting vaccinated is incredibly important, getting your booster if you haven’t received it already and being smart about what makes sense to you. If you have someone in your household that can’t get vaccinated or has an underlying illness that would put them at risk of a bad infection, then think about what you’re doing and mask if appropriate,” said UCHealth’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Michelle Barron.

Although doctors know more mandates are a tough call to make, they said the extra efforts did help slow the disease last year.

“We’ve got to get back to the basics, which are highly effective at preventing respiratory illnesses. One wonderful example is what happened to influenza last year. Essentially, it was nonexistent. It wasn’t just because everybody took up the flu vaccine, it was because there was a lot more distancing, kids were away — not back in school — masks were in place,” said Dr. Jim Neid, an infectious disease specialist at the Medical Center of Aurora.

The governor did mention he is working on venues having a safe environment. Doctors also mentioned it may be smart to wear masks in crowds. That may be an area of concern for the state now that we are seeing a return of live entertainment.

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