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Polis signs order allowing state to order hospitals to transfer or stop seeing more patients in light of COVID outbreak

The order authorizes CDPHE to order hospitals & freestanding emergency rooms to transfer or cease the admission of patients should those facilities reach "capacity."

COLORADO, USA — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Monday that grants the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) extraordinary ability over patient care within the state’s already-taxed hospital system.

Executive Order 260 authorizes CDPHE to order hospitals and freestanding emergency rooms to transfer or cease the admission of patients should those facilities reach “capacity to examine and treat patients.”

The order, which is now in effect for the next 30 days, provides CDPHE flexibility to do what Colorado hospitals have already shown a willingness to do in light of growing patient-loads due to COVID-19: transfer patients from one overburdened facility to one that is more able to handle those patients’ care.

The order does not supersede federal law that requires, under EMTALA, ERs to screen unstable patients before transferring to another facility.

Twenty-two counties have moved or will be moving the "Level Red" on the state's COVID-19 dial, meaning all restaurants will have to temporarily close to indoor dining — takeout is still an option. Outdoor seating is also an option but is limited to single-family seating, not groups. Last call will be at 8 p.m. 

RELATED: 22 counties move to 'severe risk' level on state's COVID-19 dial

There are 1,539 patients currently hospitalized in Colorado as of Nov. 22, and the seven-day, moving average positivity rate reduced to 12.01%, according to the latest data from CDPHE. 

RELATED: Colorado coronavirus latest numbers, Nov. 23

Positivity is an important indicator of the status of COVID-19 in the state. The World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2020 recommended that the positivity rate be at or below 5% to contain the virus.

Current hospitalization data are also a key metric because they can be an indicator of whether Colorado’s hospital system is being overwhelmed by the virus. In April, hospitalizations peaked at 888 in one day. That number was surpassed Nov. 5, when the number increased to 894 and it has climbed since then.

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