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Colorado sees dramatic decrease in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Colorado just dropped dramatically. Is it a fluke or a trend?

DENVER — For the first time in two months, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in Colorado dramatically dropped last week.

From Dec. 1 to Dec. 6, the COVID population in Colorado hospitals declined by more than 200 patients, according to data from the state. On Monday, that state added 10 patients for a total of 1,643 currently hospitalized.

The decrease comes as hospitals are preparing for an anticipated surge of hospitalizations following the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We are very happy for the reprieve, if you will,” said Dr. Darlene Tad-y, the vice president of clinical affairs for the Colorado Hospital Association and a practicing hospitalist at UCHealth University of Colorado hospital in Aurora. “It’s given our hospital members, the staff within our hospital members a little bit of breathing room.”

Tad-y says the decrease comes after a slow down in cases and positivity rates several weeks ago.

“Generally the rates of hospitalizations will follow the community cases or the community positivity rate by about 2 or 3 weeks,” she said. “So when we saw the community positivity rates, meaning the cases that weren’t coming to the hospital, as we saw those coming down, for a little bit we were hopeful that we would see the same downtrend in hospitalizations.”

The decrease doesn’t necessarily mark a trend, according to infectious disease specialist Dr. Michelle Barron.

“A week is probably not long enough for us to really declare this a true trend. It’s hopeful. Certainly, I think we’d all take the news that we’re declining,” Barron, who also practices for UCHealth, said.

“I think we sort of have conditioned ourselves into thinking it has to be a linear curve and there [are] people involved so there’s never going to be a linear curve. There’s never going to be a mathematical model that works.”

But both Barron and Tad-y agree the slowdown will help hospitals prepare for an influx of cases following the holiday.

“It means that we’re not bringing in our folks who are moonlighting or we’re able to keep our jeopardy pool at home so they can actually get the break and the rest,” Tad-y said.

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