GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa 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 one week (Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, 2021), Mesa County’s positivity rate jumped from 7.5% to 8.7%.
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.
On Nov. 5, the state reported 1,296 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 in Colorado 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. Statewide in the past few weeks, over 40% of ICU patients have been COVID-19 patients. And, COVID-19 is far more deadly. November of last year (2020) was Mesa County’s deadliest month in terms of deaths due to COVID-19, with 45 recorded fatalities in a single month.
Flu season is underway. Mesa County saw 117 hospitalizations during the 2018-2019 flu season, this was 50% lower than the severe 2017-2018 season. Flu activity was minimal for the 2020-2021 season, however this year we expect influenza to put extra stress on the healthcare system which across the state of Colorado is already at over 90% capacity with 30% of facilities reporting anticipated ICU bed shortages in the coming week and 36% reporting staffing shortages.
Mesa 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. Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) 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 in crowded indoor and outdoor spaces.
- 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 Mesa County Public Health Quarantine and Isolation Guidance.
- Get vaccinated if you are eligible. MCPH hosts vaccine clinics Wed-Saturday with special hours for 5-11-year-olds. Appointments can be scheduled here.
- Get your booster shot if you are eligible based on occupational, living, or medical circumstances.
The charts below compare Mesa County cases from 2020 and 2021. Highlights in pink show Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 for both years and illustrate how quickly cases accelerated in 2020. Beginning in November 2020, illness levels spiked. To say it another way, the county is just now heading into the flu season and an expected COVID-19 surge due to the perceived seasonality of the illness.
Taking COVID-19 precautions now will not only help prevent additional COVID-19 hospitalizations and death but help make sure our hospitals can also provide critical non-COVID emergency and routine care for those who need it.
Source: Grand Junction Local News | MCPH Urges Additional Precautions as Holiday Gatherings Approach