El Paso County COVID-19 hospitalizations beginning to increase

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COLORADO SPRINGS– More patients are starting to be admitted to El Paso County hospitals with COVID-19, El Paso County Public Health data shows.

The rolling 14-day average shows a daily patient count of 30.5, which is up from 23.5 on September 21st. The increase isn’t drastic yet, as the area hospitals report a “very good” situation in regards to capacity at this point.

“While, yes, hospitalizations get my attention, I move up stream to the incidence because our incidence is continuing to go up.” said Dr. Robin Johnson, the medical director for El Paso County Health.

Johnson is referring to the “case incidence” data that records the 14-day average of cases per 100,000 people. In El Paso County, cases have been increasing since the middle of September with a case incidence of 55.6 cases/14 days/100,000 people. Thursday clocked in at 92 cases/14 days/100,000, just below the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s “high spread” threshold of 100 cases/14 days/100,000 people.

This will likely fuel the rise in hospitalizations in the coming weeks, Dr. Johnson says.

“I would expect that we will see a maintaining some hospitalization increases, if not further increases.” She said, referring to the potential in hospitalizations increasing more rapidly than they have thus far.

40 COVID patients were in the hospital Monday with 38 each Tuesday and Wednesday — the highest single day totals since August 20, (49 patients). On September 26, 43 people were in the hospital (on Friday, Sept. 25 there were 26 patients and 36 on Sunday Sept. 27 with a significant drop in hospitalized patients in the days following).

Johnson believes multiple factors have played into the increase: a labor day rise, though not as drastic as the Fourth of July’s, schools returning to in-person learning, an early-season snow storm bringing people inside, and relaxed mask wearing and other public health practices.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go, ‘We’ve been here, we know what to do.'” Johnson said. “I wish we could find fresh ways to say this so it would sound exciting but, it’s the same thing, it’s our preventative tools.”

Those preventative tools being mask wearing, hygiene, staying home if you’re sick and getting tested if you feel COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed.

Dr. Johnson has not heard from CDPHE on if this increase puts midnight closing hours for restaurants at risk or any of the other counties’ variances but says, without continued vigilance by citizens, the situation could get worse.

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