Hospitals brace for possible post-Thanksgiving COVID spike

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado hospitals are bracing for a potential spike in COVID-19 cases as people gather and travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Colorado has seen a steady increase in cases and hospitalizations throughout the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week a 16.1% increase in the 7-day moving average for cases compared to the previous week.

“What we really worry about this year is not only the post-holiday surge in and of itself, because we’re already near the breaking point,” said Dr. Kenneth Lyn-Kew, a critical care specialist with National Jewish Health.

Gov. Jared Polis recently enacted crisis standards of care in Colorado to provide some relief to the hospital staffing shortage. The declaration allows hospitals to bypass less critical aspects of providing care and focus on the most important aspects in order to see more patients.

Lyn-Kew said National Jewish Health is prepared to pull specialists from outpatient clinics into inpatient shifts if needed. He said finding space is also a challenge that could impact patient care.

“You get into the hospital and you wait for hours in the emergency room because there’s nowhere for anybody to go. It’s like congestion on I-25 at rush hour — everything is just backed up,” Lyn-Kew said.

Recent state data show about 100 open ICU beds across Colorado.

“Hospitals have a lot of space outside the ICU that can be used as the ICU capacity in case we need to. At this point, we’re using traditional ICU space but if needed we could spread and stretch to accommodate those patients,” said Dr. Jaya Kumar, chief medical officer at Swedish Medical Center.

Health officials said the best way to keep numbers down is to attend gatherings with vaccinated individuals and wear a mask in indoor public settings.

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