Doctor says advancements in treatment have made a difference since start of pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s COVID-19 numbers continue to soar, with hospitalizations reaching an all-time high Thursday.

According to state data, 894 confirmed COVID-19 positive patients are currently hospitalized. As the state trends toward numbers at the start of the pandemic, doctors say significant advancements have been made since then in how they treat COVID-19 patients.

“They’re still ill but they’re not as critically ill and they don’t deteriorate as rapidly as they did back in the spring,” said Dr. Joe Forrester, medical director for Critical Care and Pulmonary Consultants with HealthONE.

Forrester helps manage intensive care units for several hospitals within the HealthONE system. He says a majority of the COVID-19 patients they see receive a combination of medicines to combat the coronavirus.

The first drug is dexamethasone — a corticosteroid that Forrester says helps soften the immune system, decreases inflammation and helps protect organs. The other is Remdesivir — an anti-viral to help fight the virus. Forrester says convalescent plasma treatment is also used in many cases. The treatment takes antibodies from a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfuses them into a patient currently battling the virus.

Although case numbers and hospitalizations are increasing, COVID-19 death rates have stayed relatively steady in Colorado. Forrester says it’s unclear whether that’s a direct cause of the advancements in treatment.

“Whether that is the case, I don’t know. Maybe the virus has changed, maybe the susceptibility to the virus has changed. More patients are being admitted to the floor and not ending up in the ICU and that’s a big difference,” said Forrester.

Forrester says improvements in treatment will not stop the virus. There is still no cure for COVID-19, and he encourages everyone to take simple measures seriously, like hand washing and social distancing.

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