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Public Health - News

Posted on: December 16, 2021

Public Health and Hospitals Urge Continued Caution During the Winter Holiday Season

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As the winter holidays continue and families and friends gather to celebrate, metro Denver public health and hospital partners remind all Coloradans that COVID-19 is still an ongoing health crisis impacting hospitals, schools, and local communities.

The Metro Denver Partnership for Health and its hospital partners encourage everyone to take steps now to decrease COVID-19 transmission, assure continued in-person schooling, and ease the strain on our health care system.

  • Get vaccinated (for those 5 years of age or older).
  • Get a booster vaccine dose (for those age 16 and older) if it has been six months since the second Pfizer or Moderna dose or two months since a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Get an influenza vaccine (for those older than 6 months).
  • Wear masks when in public indoor spaces.
  • Get tested if experiencing symptoms.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Keep gatherings small and hold them outdoors when possible.

Colorado and the metro region have seen recent slowing in new cases and hospitalizations from record highs just a month earlier. However, hospital capacity remains critically limited, which puts every Coloradan who may experience a health emergency or have routine health care needs at risk. Statewide, hospital bed availability is around 5% for both intensive care unit and medical/surgical care beds. Colorado’s hospitals have activated crisis standards of care for staffing to meet Coloradans’ COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related health care needs while supporting health care workers, and crisis standards of hospital care have been updated in case rationing of resources becomes necessary. 

“It has been another difficult year for all of us as the pandemic continues and evolves,” said Ben Keidan, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Boulder Community Health. “We are grateful that our successful vaccination efforts across the state have been essential in maintaining health system capacity so that we can continue to care for all of our communities’ needs. If you or your family are not fully vaccinated for COVID or influenza, this is the most effective step individuals can take toward protecting our hospitals, our communities and getting our businesses back to normal.”

The Omicron variant, already present in Colorado, is spreading rapidly in other countries and now also in parts of the United States. Current research suggests that COVID vaccines, especially if supplemented with boosters, provide strong protection against infection.

“Residents across the metro Denver region are doing their part to slow the current surge, and we are grateful because we know these efforts come at a cost,” said Bill Burman, MD, Executive Director, Public Health Institute at Denver Health and former MDPH co-chair. “We cannot become complacent while our counties still have very high case rates of COVID-19 and increasing hospitalizations due to influenza season. Now is the time to get vaccinated or a booster dose and wear masks in public indoor spaces to get ahead of the Omicron variant as we head into the winter season.” 

COVID-19 prevention measures like vaccines with boosters, masks while indoors, good ventilation, staying home when sick, and early treatment with monoclonal antibody infusions can slow COVID-19, keep our communities safer, and allow all Coloradans to get appropriate care when they need it.

MDPH is led by six public health partners serving the six-county Denver metro area: Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, Jefferson County Public Health, Public Health Institute at Denver Health, and Tri-County Health Department, serving Adams and Arapahoe counties. MDPH’s work impacts nearly 3 million Coloradans — 60% of the state’s population — who live in this region. MDPH is supported and staffed by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI). More information can be found on CHI’s website at https://colo.health/MDPH.

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