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COVID-19: Colorado Hospitalization Crisis Grows Closer

Parkview Hospital in Pueblo reached more than 100 percent of its surge capacity on November 16, with more than 100 COVID-19 patients admitted. According to the governor's office, multiple patients had to be transferred to other facilities.
Parkview Hospital in Pueblo reached more than 100 percent of its surge capacity on November 16, with more than 100 COVID-19 patients admitted. According to the governor's office, multiple patients had to be transferred to other facilities.
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At 9 a.m. Sunday, November 22, cell phones owned by untold thousands living across Colorado buzzed simultaneously with a public-safety alert: "This region is at severe risk from deadly COVID. Use caution."

This notice, unleashed by Colorado's Homeland Security and Emergency Management division, demonstrated a keen grasp of the obvious that was confirmed later that day by fresh data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Once again, the majority of the details were alarming, particularly those involving hospitals, more than a third of which are anticipating staff shortages over the next seven days owing to the rapid influx of patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.

The CDPHE figures were updated at 4 p.m. November 22. Here are the stats in major categories compared to those from November 15:

198,600 cases (up 35,183 from November 15)
12,484 hospitalized (up 1,360 from November 15)
64 counties (unchanged from November 15)
2,806 deaths among cases (up 260 from November 15)
2,355 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 121 from November 15)
1,908 outbreaks (up 258 from November 15)

Four more takeaways:

• The only metric that didn't rise substantially from the previous week was the number of Colorado counties that have reported COVID-19 cases — because all 64 are already represented.
• Hospitalizations are up more than 12 percent over the one-week period.
• Deaths among people with positive cases more than doubled in two weeks (the November 8 number was 106), and deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 nearly matched that pace in half the time, going from 66 on November 15 to 121 a week later.
• Another weekly outbreaks record is virtually assured for the ninth consecutive week. The CDPHE's November 18 report spotlighted a record-shattering 259 new entries in a week, and with three days to go, the state has already added 258.

Among the few numbers to dip was the state's positivity rate, defined by the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins as "the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive, or: (positive tests)/(total tests) x 100 percent." It measured at 10.85 percent on November 22, down 1.84 day over day. That's still more than twice the 5 percent standard the World Health Organization identifies as a warning sign, but an improvement nonetheless. Still, the seven-day average positivity rate remains at 12.01 percent, and the previous week's outpatient syndromic COVID-19 visits hit a new peak of 20.07 percent, up 1.09 percent from the previous day.

Here are COVID-19 cases in Colorado by the date they were reported over the most recent ten-day period:

November 21 — 3,685
November 20 — 5,288
November 19 — 5,421
November 18 — 5,709
November 17 — 4,678
November 16 — 4,325
November 15 — 3,947
November 14 — 4,224
November 13 — 5,085
November 12 — 6,583

The 6,583 cases on November 12 was the largest total since the pandemic's start, and 6.79 times higher than the single-day topper of 969 cases during the first wave of the pandemic.

The severe risk warning.
The severe risk warning.
Screen capture by Michael Roberts

The 293 single-day hospital admissions on November 20 exceeded the first wave's highest point, 285 admissions on April 14. On November 20, officials counted 1,564 patients with confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses, close to twice as many as the first-wave mark of 848 on April 9. Meanwhile, the average of new hospital admissions by day has gone from 133 on November 8 to 186 on November 15 to 238 on November 22.

Those figures over ten-day periods:

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

November 22, 2020
1,670 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,539 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
131 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 21, 2020
1,703 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,563 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
140 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 20, 2020
1,723 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,564 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
159 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 19, 2020
1,645 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,500 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
145 (9 percent Persons Under Investigation

November 18, 2020
1,593 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,428 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
165 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 17, 2020
1,543 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,378 (89 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
165 (11 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 16, 2020
1,424 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,294 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
130 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 15, 2020
1,417 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,278 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
139 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 14, 2020
1,325 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,187 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
138 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

November 13, 2020
1,315 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
1,159 (88 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
156 (12 percent) Persons Under Investigation

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

November 22, 2020
159 patents admitted to the hospital
238 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 21, 2020
212 patents admitted to the hospital
249 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 20, 2020
293 patents admitted to the hospital
252 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 19, 2020
275 patents admitted to the hospital
238 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 18, 2020
253 patents admitted to the hospital
228 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 17, 2020
272 patents admitted to the hospital
224 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 16, 2020
203 patents admitted to the hospital
212 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 15, 2020
238 patents admitted to the hospital
203 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 14, 2020
227 patents admitted to the hospital
194 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

November 13, 2020
201 patents admitted to the hospital
183 seven-day average of patients admitted to the hospital

The repercussions of these stats are spelled out clearly in two more CDPHE revelations: 35 percent of hospitals in Colorado are anticipating staff shortages in the next week, and 11 percent expect they'll suffer from ICU bed shortages.

These factors are likely to be exacerbated by this week's Thanksgiving holiday, when many medical professionals who deserve time off will instead be on the job, draped in PPE and working desperately to keep more stricken Coloradans alive.

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