Boulder County has seen a recent substantial increase in COVID-19 cases. This is in addition to the high transmission rate the county has experienced over the past month. In three days, Boulder County’s case rate jumped from 127.5 to 177 cases per 100,000.
On Oct. 28, the state reported 1,167 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 – a number that has been increasing over the past weeks. To put this in context, the average peak hospitalizations for the flu season over the past five years is between 275-500 cases per week, and generally the peak is not sustained for more than a few weeks. 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, over 40% of ICU patients have been COVID-19 patients. And, COVID-19 is far more deadly. There have been 29 deaths due to COVID-19 in Boulder County since May 2021, 14 of which have occurred in October.
Many Colorado hospitals are full or nearing capacity due to both COVID-19, non-COVID-19 emergency and other routine visits. Hospitals are currently diverting patients. The Governor stated that if this surge continues, Colorado will need to request FEMA medical surge teams (in addition to National Guard teams already in place), halt elective surgeries, and hospitals may need to resort to crisis standards of care.
Flu season has not yet begun this year, and when it does begin, we expect it to put extra stress on the healthcare system which is already at over 90% capacity as of this week with 30% of facilities reporting anticipated ICU bed shortages in the coming week and 36% reporting staffing shortages. Taking COVID-19 precautions now will not only prevent additional COVID-19 hospitalizations, but to make sure our hospitals can also provide critical non-COVID emergency and routine care for those who need it in a timely manner.
Boulder County Public Health recommends the following for safer fall and winter festivities:
• Vaccines remain the most effective way to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent disease and hospitalizations. Per Public Health Orders 2021-08 and 2021-07, masks are required in all public indoor spaces for all people 2 years or older. However, with the upcoming Halloween weekend and moving into the winter holidays, BCPH strongly recommends that all individuals take the following additional precautions:
• Whenever possible, move both public and private gatherings and events outdoors. Increase ventilation in indoor spaces if being outdoors is not possible.
• Wear a mask whenever in a crowded indoor and outdoor spaces (masks are required in all public indoor spaces, per Public Health Order 2021-08).
• Get tested if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
• Stay home if you are sick or waiting for a COVID-19 test result. Follow Boulder County Public Health Quarantine and Isolation Guidance.
• Get vaccinated if you are eligible (BCPH is expecting 5-11 year-olds to start receiving doses around November 6, 2021). • Get your booster shot if you are eligible based on occupational, living, or medical circumstances.
The following public health orders remain in effect in Boulder County:
Masks are required for all individuals 2 and older in all public indoor spaces in Boulder County, regardless of vaccination status, except for approved vaccine verified facilities and events.
Public Health Order 2021-07 requires masks for all childcare settings, PK-12 schools, and youth activities regardless of vaccination status.