The coronavirus could peak beyond hospital capacity in Colorado in September unless older adults reduce social interactions by far more than normal for months to come, according to new modeling scenarios released Tuesday.
Colorado will need more intensive-care beds than exist in this state around Aug. 15 — right as school starts — unless people who are age 60 and older maintain strict social distancing and all Coloradans continue reduced social interactions, said public health officials during a remote news conference.
Under the models created by the University of Colorado School of Public Health, Colorado would need about 2,500 intensive-care beds by mid-September if those strict isolation recommendations are not followed. The state only has about 1,900 ICU beds.
The key to preventing hospital overload is a math problem: If Coloradans go out in public — including to church, restaurants and stores — 65% less compared to normal times, ICU beds will not reach capacity even as cases of coronavirus rise in the fall.
But if the state reduces social interaction by only 45% or 55%, Colorado hospitals are predicted to run out of space for patients who need critical care.
To comply, older adults should think about it this way: cut social interactions by more than half, not less than half, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s state epidemiologist.
Ask friends and neighbors to do the shopping. Avoid going to restaurants, because that’s a common place where older adults could come in close proximity to younger people who might have coronavirus but are asymptomatic. And consider that less time in public means less potential exposure to the virus — religious services, for example, are likely to include many people and take much longer than a quick trip into a store, state public health officials explained.