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DENVER (KDVR) — Hospitals across the state are saying they too may need help because of the number of medical staff infected with COVID-19. The state has started a backup plan to try to get them the help they need. 

FOX31 is being told positive COVID cases among staff are coming mostly from community spread, not from working in a hospital. 

Scott Bookman is the COVID-19 incident commander at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“The hospitals are seeing more staff members sick with COVID in the last month than they’ve seen in the totality of this pandemic. This is creating serious staffing problems for hospitals and exacerbating the stress that they are feeling,” he said.

The CDPHE said it does not track the number of hospital workers who have become infected with the coronavirus. Still it is troubling news, as hospitals hold the key to stop counties from becoming a so-called “purple county” on the COVID dial. It’s a designation — triggered by overwhelmed hospitals — that could lead to stay-at-home orders in various counties 

Hospitals are fearing things will get much worse. 

“We have not seen any break in cases and until we see that, we know that the next couple of weeks are going to be really challenging and really putting us at tipping point in being able to manage the level of growth,” Colorado Hospital Association spokesperson Julie Lonborg said.

The state and the Colorado Hospital Association are now working on a plan to move patients from large cities to smaller communities if needed in worst-case scenarios.

On standby now are the field hospitals like the one  at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. 

“Our goal is to never have to put one of our patients into one of these sites because we’ve been able to protect the capacity of our normal health care system,” Bookman said.

The CDPHE said if the places like the convention center are used, it means some counties have already gone into the dreaded purple designation. We could see if that happens in the next two weeks as COVID cases are expected to surge even further.  

The state said it’s also working on a program to try to provide backup staffing if hospitals run into trouble. That could also present a challenge if many hospitals need help at the same time.