Due to the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19, Larimer County’s hospitals ICU beds reached capacity on Thursday, with a few beds opening up the following day. According to The Coloradoan, of the filled beds, almost half were in use by patients being treated for COVID-19.

“The last time we were caring for this many COVID-19 patients was early January,” said UCHealth spokesperson Kelly Tracer. On Thursday, 36 of the 81 beds in use were hospitalized due to COVID across Larimer County, while UCHealth itself has hospitalized 75 people with the disease.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to UCHealth. Banner Health’s Northern Colorado hospitals are reporting similar numbers, particularly over the last week.

However, in spite of ICU wards reaching their maximum capacity, Larimer County hospitals can still use progressive care unit beds for overflow – If they’re not already in use. But Larimer County Health Director Tom Gonzales reported that many, if not all, of those beds are already in use as well.

“The problem is we don’t really have the capacity to go to (medical) surge,” Gonzales said. “We’re going to have to exceed the ICU, exceed the (progressive care unit), find nooks and crannies, put beds wherever we can. They can. They’ve done that before.” Gonzales also reported that Larimer County is not only facing a shortage of hospital beds, but of staff to treat those in their units. This is an issue facing hospitals across Larimer and Weld counties, lowering the level of care patients receive at hospitals whose COVID-19 cases are surging.

According to Tracer, this surge is coming at a troublesome time given that the start of the fall season often sees increased cases of trauma-related injuries or other respiratory illnesses, in addition to those who delayed necessary treatments during the pandemic.

“It’s going to be a challenge for our heroes in the hospitals that have been working tirelessly for 16 months,” Gonzales said. “The community needs to understand this is real.”

In order to limit the strain on Larimer County’s health organizations, Gonzales advised that people should return to wearing face coverings indoors and crowded outdoor spaces. The County Health Director also noted that “vaccines are now the most useful tool in slowing the spread,” according to statements given to The Coloradoan.

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