Colorado passed the peak of a delta wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, but some of those hospitalized during the current Omicron boom are being treated primarily for symptoms of the virus. Although estimates vary widely as to how many patients tested positive after being admitted. ,
State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said 1,577 people had been hospitalized across the state with confirmed COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, one more hospitalization than when the delta wave peaked on November 23. recruited in. At the worst point of the pandemic in early December 2020. Of the 1,847 people hospitalized with the virus.
“Our hospitals are clearly under significant stress,” she said during a news briefing.
But the fast-spreading Omicron variant has sent new infections skyrocketing in Colorado, making it less likely to cause serious illness than the Delta version, which carried the state’s fifth wave.
Colorado has more beds currently available in intensive care units, said Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander. On average, 91% of intensive care beds and 93% of general hospital beds were in use across the state during the past week.
Hurlihi said the state estimates that about 65% of current COVID positive patients are hospitalized because they have the virus, with COVID-19 either contributing to hospitalizations or others. plays no role.
In previous waves, 80% to 90% of patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized due to complications from the virus, she said.
UCHealth and Denver Health have come to almost opposite conclusions about why most of their COVID-19 patients are, with 60% to 65% reporting that they came to the hospital for some other reason and were then found to have the virus.
It’s possible that those hospitals are seeing a different mix of patients than other parts of the state, or that they and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment are using different ways of classifying patients.
Whether hospitalization could have been avoided is not always easy to analyze for COVID-19. A man who broke his leg skiing and tested positive with an asymptomatic infection is apparently an accidental hospitalization. A person with diabetes who has a blood sugar crisis is hard to label, as viral infections can exacerbate chronic conditions.
Even when the virus is not the primary reason someone has sought care, it creates difficulties, as those patients must be isolated from others and anyone caring for them should not be allowed inside. Before they are required to don full protective equipment, Herlih said. She said it can also lead to complications that keep a person in the hospital longer.
“In many cases, COVID-19 is complicating their hospitalization, extending their hospitalization,” she said.
The model projects the current surge could peak later this week, with nearly 2,100 people hospitalized for COVID-19, Hurley said, though an outlandish scenario could later see the wave peak with more than 3,000 hospitalizations. shows.
So far, the percentage of tests that come back positive – typically the first weathervane to turn when the COVID-19 wave is accelerating or nearing its end – continues to increase by an average of 30% over the past week . With more than 12,000 new infections reported in the past 24 hours on Wednesday, there is no sign cases are also declining.
In previous waves, the positivity rate would drop first, followed by cases, and a week or so later, hospitalizations.
The state is looking at local data, as well as what happened in South Africa, the United Kingdom and other states, Hurley said. New York City has reached its peak in cases, and Colorado may learn how long hospitalizations take, she said.
In December 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, conditions were different for hospitalizations: businesses were operating under significant capacity restrictions, and Colorado had a statewide mask mandate – but the virus was less transmitted. In November 2021, during the peak of the delta wave, the restrictions ended, and a committee was preparing guidelines for implementing crisis standards if Colorado should care to ration.
Buchman said Colorado currently has crisis standards in place to allow hospitals and emergency medical providers to spread their staffing in a way that could mean less than optimal care for patients, but there is no indication that rationing is possible. Care is on the horizon. He said frontline health care workers have been battling the pandemic for almost two years.
“They need to grow again,” he said.