NBC NEWS – Hospitals in Colorado are being allowed to turn away patients as the state experiences its worst Covid surge in a year.
An order signed Sunday by Gov. Jared Polis gives health care professionals the authority to prioritize crisis care under the direction of the state health department.
While the state has a nearly 80 percent partial vaccination rate, unvaccinated people with severe Covid-19 are overwhelming hospitals, many of which reported being over 90 percent capacity, according to Scott Bookman, Covid-19 incident commander for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“If you are unvaccinated, a regular trip to the grocery store, a night out to dinner are more dangerous than they have been at any point during this pandemic,” Polis said Monday in Covid-19 update.
A total of 1,358 Covid patients were hospitalized across Colorado on Wednesday, almost a 50 percent increase from the 909 Covid patients hospitalized on Oct. 3, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard.
“The delta variant is brutally effective at seeking out the unvaccinated, like a laser-guided missile.” – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Covid hospitalization rates have been steadily growing since a summer low in Colorado, with 455 reported at the start of August. Polis said the state has the fifth-highest number of Covid cases in the country.
The majority of Covid hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people, “at somewhere between 80 and 90 percent across Colorado,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection control and prevention for UCHealth, the largest hospital in the Denver area.
She said the executive order will allow health care workers, “who are obviously stretched,” to make calls that prioritize urgency and possibly reduce overcrowding in hospitals.
Doctors and nurses have been taking extra shifts and working overtime to meet the growing need, said Dr. Eric Poeschla, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Colorado Hospital, where 85 percent of all Covid patients are unvaccinated.
Besides getting vaccinated, a more holistic approach to Covid-19 prevention might better protect the most vulnerable and reduce hospitalizations, he said …