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Despite similar hospitalization rates, Colorado COVID-19 deaths are about 1/3 of what they were in May

Despite the lower death rate, overwhelming hospitals is a threat. Currently, 80% of ICU beds for COVID patients are currently in use.

DENVER, Colorado — Wednesday marked one of the largest jumps in COVID-19 hospitalizations Colorado has seen during the pandemic. Cases are also on the rise, but the data also shows our hospitals have become much better at treating people with the virus.

Colorado's health department recorded 596 total confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations Wednesday. The state hasn’t seen that many since mid-May when about 15 people each day were dying with the virus.

This week, with the same number of hospitalizations, about five a day are dying.

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“In the span of about seven months, the whole world has come together to communicate and share ideas and perform clinical research and we've identified ways to improve outcome from patients in a very short period of time in terms of medical research,” explained Dr. Marc Moss, the critical care director at University of Colorado Hospital. “It's unprecedented what's happened. We still have a lot of work to do though. “

He said he's encouraged by the rapidly-evolving treatment research and that work has proven successful for people battling the virus in intensive care units.

“We have effective therapies now that we didn't have in the beginning," he said. "Antiviral medications such as Remdesivir and anti-inflammatory medication such as dexamethasone that either improve the symptomatology and patients get better quicker or improved outcomes and they're more likely to survive.”

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The seven months of treating thousands of patients has given healthcare workers a better understanding of how the virus works, too. 

For example, ventilators are used less frequently. The state reported patients are spending a bit less time in the hospital. But, Dr. Moss says the good news is no reason to let your guard down.

“This is real and this is scary and I think people need to understand that. I know everyone's getting stir crazy, but people are dying.”

Despite the lower death rate, overwhelming hospitals is a threat. Right now, 80% of ICU beds for COVID patients are currently in use, which is higher than in May, as cases continue to climb.

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