As we head into the fall months, Larimer County health officials are bracing for a potential surge in COVID-19, respiratory syncytial Virus (RSV), and influenza (flu) cases. With the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines decreasing, the arrival of RSV and flu season, and Larimer County hospitals already at or exceeding capacity, health officials are asking residents to take action.
- On July 14, there were 10 patients with COVID-19 in Larimer County hospitals and today, 86 patients are hospitalized.
- Since September 1, Larimer County has lost 26 residents to COVID-19. The majority of those who have been hospitalized or who have passed away have been unvaccinated.
- Larimer County ICU utilization is currently at 105% of the level of customary care, with 40% of patients in ICU having COVID-19.
- For each of the past four days, Larimer County hospitals have had 10-14 individuals admitted with COVID-19, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 is continuing to increase.
With the increase in hospitalizations, Larimer County hospitals are already being overburdened. While the hospital systems throughout Colorado are doing all they can to care for patients, the healthcare providers need relief so they can swiftly and adequately treat all urgent medical needs in our community. Capacity cannot continue to stretch indefinitely. Critical care staff is in short supply throughout the country and additional staffing resources are not readily available.
Everyday between November 18 and December 28, 2020 we saw between 82 and 121 COVID patients in the hospital, but we only had 3 hospitalizations for influenza all of last flu season. A typical flu season averages 200 hospitalizations for influenza. If we see both record high hospitalizations for COVID and a normal flu season, our hospital capacity will face an unprecedented challenge.
On top of influenza concerns we are also monitoring cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Cases of RSV, a respiratory virus that can cause severe disease in infants, small children, and older adults, have been increasing with outbreaks occurring locally in school and childcare settings. Additional infectious disease outbreaks strain existing capacity in Emergency Departments and hospitals already exceeding their capacity for customary care.
Health officials are asking residents to take action now to prevent an even worse scenario for hospitals in the coming months:
- Get your COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose, if eligible.
- Get your flu shot, available to those 6 months of age and older.
- Wear a mask indoors. COVID-19, RSV, and the flu are spread by respiratory droplets and a mask prevents the spread of all of these viruses.
- Postpone large indoor gatherings if customers and guests are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Stay home and isolated from others if you have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms. Keep children home from school and childcare if they are ill.
- If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, wear a mask and get tested.
- Do not work or attend school if you know you are positive with COVID-19, until you have completed the minimum 10 days of isolation.
“Once again I am pleading with our residents to take the situation with our hospital capacity seriously. Our heroic healthcare providers have not had any relief from the pandemic for many weeks now,” says Tom Gonzales, Larimer County Public Health Director. “We are facing the potential for hospitals to become even more overwhelmed during the fall and winter. Now is the time to get your preventative shots to help minimize the impacts of these viruses.”
The Larimer County Department of Health & Environment has a webpage dedicated to helping residents find information about COVID-19 vaccination and register for an appointment at www.larimer.org/covidvaccine. The direct link to schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine is: https://larimerhealth.secure.force.com/Vaccine/. Individuals may also call LCDHE at 970-498-5500 for assistance scheduling an appointment. Phone assistance is available in English and Spanish.
Information about COVID-19 is constantly changing, and the public health response adjusts as more is learned about this virus. While there is plenty of news and media information available, LCDHE is encouraging Larimer County residents to view the latest credible information on COVID-19 at www.larimer.org/covid19 or www.CDC.gov/coronavirus. Additionally, residents are encouraged to follow LCDHE’s Facebook and Twitter accounts at @LarimerHealth.