Amid COVID-19 surge, Colorado ICU capacity shrinks to lowest level since pandemic began

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DENVER | Colorado has the fewest number of ICU beds available statewide since the beginning of the pandemic due to an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations driven largely by the unvaccinated, Gov. Jared Polis said Friday at a press conference.

Of 894 people who are hospitalized, 168 are vaccinated and 726 are not vaccinated, Polis said. The majority of those who are vaccinated are elderly or have pre-existing conditions. There are currently 17 pediatric cases in hospitals.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has added a vaccine breakthrough dashboard to its website. Based on current data, vaccinated people are 3.7 times less likely to be hospitalized from COVID and 5.8 times less likely to die than the unvaccinated.

“We would not be anything close to hospital capacity or ICU capacity if everyone was vaccinated,” Polis said.

Scott Bookman, Colorado’s COVID-19 incident commander, said that on Thursday Colorado’s ICU bed capacity dipped below 200 available beds statewide.

The state currently has the second-highest number of COVID hospitalizations it has since the pandemic began, he said. Because people are back to life as usual for the most part, hospitals are also seeing an increase in strokes, heart attacks and issues from people who delayed care earlier in the pandemic.

“The burden of the unvaccinated on our hospitals is profound,” Bookman said.

Hospitals are beginning to cancel elective surgeries and put together surge capacity plans to deal with the increase, he said.

Currently, 75% of Coloradans 12 and up and 58.6% of Coloradans age 12 to 17 are vaccinated. Getting everyone else vaccinated is crucial to ending the pandemic and taking the stress of the hospital system, Polis said.

“Please get vaccinated,” he said. “We can end the pandemic but we’re not going to end it by pretending it’s already overInformation about where to get vaccinated is available at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

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