Colorado hospitals aren’t expecting shortages like last fall

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) – It’s certainly true that Colorado’s COVID hospitalization numbers are going up, but so far the state’s hospitals aren’t overburdened.

Yesterday, Gov. Jared Polis gave updated guidance on the state’s COVID situation. While he expects the state’s rising cases to get worse before they get better, he also cautioned against alarmism. Neither he nor the state’s healthcare community expect hospitals to become overcrowded, he said.

Health department data backs his claim.

Hospitalizations have undeniably been going up since June but haven’t yet reached any of the heights of last fall’s wave.

As of Aug. 2, there are 405 total COVID patients checked into Colorado hospitals, up from 302 on June 27.

The 7-day average for daily number of new COVID hospital patients has gone up as well, from 34 on June 27 to 48 on Aug. 2.

Both sets of number had been steadily trending downward from heights in May. Now, they are approaching or barely exceeding the lows Colorado saw in late spring and early summer – lows the state hadn’t seen since the summer of 2020.

Leading into last year’s fall wave, state and health officials’ biggest fear revolved around hospital capacity. Throughout the summer of 2020, case rates and hospitalizations were relatively low after the pandemic’s opening months and the lockdowns that came as a result.

Those fears turned out to be justified.

Cases started rising in mid-September. At that time, only 1% of hospitals in Colorado reported that they expected either staffing shortages or shortages of intensive care beds.

That changed rapidly. On Oct. 15, 2020, 2% of hospitals expected shortages of workers or ICU beds. Only a month later, 28% of hospitals expected staff shortages, and 11% of hospitals expected ICU bed shortages.

Hospitals haven’t reported last summer’s low expectations of shortages since then, but they did go down as the vaccine rolled out.

As of Aug. 2, those fears are nowhere near last fall’s.

Five percent of Colorado hospitals now expect an ICU bed shortage in the next week, and 10% expected staff shortages. Both those estimates have gone up since March but have also ticked down in the last month.

The in-hospital death rates are also at their lowest.

The percentage of COVID hospital patients to die is now at its lowest point since the pandemic started. Only 1% COVID hospitalizations ended in death for the week ending July 25, which is the second straight week of lowest hospitalization death rates.

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