Colorado: Some hospitals anticipate ICU bed shortage amid COVID-19 surge

Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are at their highest peak since last December, according to state data, and the health department said 30% of the state’s facilities are anticipating ICU bed shortages within the next week.

As of Wednesday, Colorado had nearly 1,280 hospitalizations, with 80% made up of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, according to the health department’s data dashboard.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis issued two executive orders on Sunday in response to the hospitalization increase — one calling for additional National Guard resources and another ordering hospitals and emergency departments to transfer or stop admitting new patients due to the lack of hospital beds.

"This is an extraordinary step taken by the state’s hospitals and health systems," said Dr. Darlene Tad-y, Colorado Health Association vice president of clinical affairs. "Even when under immense pressure, the state’s health care system continues to work collaboratively with each other and our partners at the state to ensure the best care possible is available to every Coloradan that needs it. However, activating Tier 3 of the CHTC should send a clear message to Coloradans: our health care system is in jeopardy of being overwhelmed."

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FILE - Clinicians care for COVID-19 patients in a converted negative pressure room in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). CREDIT: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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"Our frontline health care workers and hospitals need everyone’s help to get through this," Tad-y continued. "Please continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance when out in public, and, if you’re able, get a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s also crucial that individuals continue to seek health care at the right level, the right time, and the right place. The best solution for our capacity issues right now is to lower the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and we need help from all Coloradans to do that."

From Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, one in every 281 people in Colorado was diagnosed with COVID-19, making it the ninth-highest rate among states of new cases per 100,000 residents, according to data collected by the Associated Press. 

The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from nearly 2,254 new cases per day in late October to 2,550 new cases per day as of Nov. 3.

When Colorado hit its previous peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations last winter, the state reported on Nov. 13, 2020, that 85% of acute care beds were filled, leaving 1,372 remaining beds. But as of Wednesday, the state reported 92% of acute care beds were filled with only 701 beds available.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.