As flu season looms, Boulder County Public Health officials on Friday said they expect this to put additional strain on hospitals, which statewide are full or nearing capacity because of COVID-19 cases, routine visits and non-COVID-19 related emergencies.

According to a Boulder County Public Health news release, the county has seen a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases, with case rates jumping from 127.5 to 177 cases per 100,000. As of Friday, there were 74 people hospitalized with COVID-19. There have been 29 deaths due to COVID-19 in Boulder County since May, 14 of which have occurred in October, the release said.

The state on Thursday reported 1,167 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, according to the release. This number, officials said, has been increasing over past weeks. Public health officials said that to put this in context, the average peak hospitalizations for the flu season during the past five years is between 275 and 500 cases per week, and generally the peak is not sustained for more than a few weeks. The release said that not only are COVID-19 hospitalizations longer in duration compared to the flu, but they result in higher ICU demand. In the past few weeks, more than 40% of ICU patients have been COVID-19 patients. And, the release said, COVID-19 is far more deadly.

With many hospitals across the state contending with being full or nearing capacity, public health said, hospitals are currently diverting patients.

Kevin Massey, Centura Health spokesperson, released a statement in response to the Daily Camera’s inquiries Friday evening.

“Centura Health hospitals, like all hospitals across our region, remain very busy with COVID-19 patients as well as those with other illnesses,” Massey wrote. “We remain open and able to care for all those who need us at this time, but our caregivers are facing challenges for sure. We encourage everyone in our communities who are eligible to receive vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu to become vaccinated to help prevent further challenges to our ability to care for patients in the coming weeks and months.”

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday said that if the state’s COVID-19 situation doesn’t improve in the next couple of days, the state will need to request FEMA medical surge teams, the Denver Post reported. This would be in addition to National Guard teams already in place. It would also mean halting elective surgeries, and hospitals may need to resort to crisis standards of care.

Boulder County Public Health officials said that flu season, which has not yet begun this year, is expected to put extra stress on the health care system. The release said that statewide, the health care system is already at more than 90% capacity, as of this week, with 30% of facilities reporting anticipated ICU bed shortages in the coming week and 36% reporting staffing shortages.

Boulder County Public Health said vaccines remain the most effective way to control the spread of the virus and prevent disease and hospitalizations, but also emphasized other measures people should take to have safer fall and winter festivities.

Boulder County Public Health officials recommended that whenever possible, people move both public and private gatherings and events outdoors. If being outdoors is not possible, they recommended increased ventilation. They also asked that people get tested if they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and to stay home if they are sick or waiting for a COVID-19 test results.

For more information, Boulder County Public Health Officials asked people to check out Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines at: bit.ly/3nKxQtA.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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