Larimer County health officials have warned the public that hospitals across the county are in the midst of operating over their traditional capacity limits for now the third week in a row.

Health officials say that the county's overall Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity has been at or above 100% since August 30, 2021, with the current capacity at 107%.

On July 14, there were 10 patients with COVID-19 across all Larimer County hospitals; on Thursday (Sept. 16), 76 patients were hospitalized, with nearly 40% of patients in the ICU having COVID-19.

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“We have been running at or over capacity in our NOCO hospitals for three weeks with very sick COVID and non-COVID patients,”  Margo Karsten, Banner Health Western Region president, said in a press release posted to the official Larimer County website on Thursday night.

“This puts enormous strain on health care operations and our team members. We want to provide the best care possible for Northern Colorado residents, and for us to be able to do that we need your help to end the pandemic. Please get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible. It is safe and effective, and Pfizer is now FDA approved. Also, we recommend wearing a mask indoors and continuing to social distance when possible.”

In August and September, Larimer County lost 22 individuals to COVID-19, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. The majority of those who were either hospitalized or have died have been unvaccinated.

According to the CDC, an unvaccinated person is five times more likely to be infected, and more than ten times more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

Hospitals that exceed their ICU capacity are forced to put their overflow patients - who are also facing critical conditions - in rooms that were not constructed for that purpose. Some even try to treat two patients in critical condition in the same room. These current conditions have made it increasingly more difficult for doctors and nurses to provide the best quality care.

“UCHealth’s priority is to continue to serve patients throughout Colorado, caring for patients who come to our hospitals with emergency medical needs,” Kevin Unger, president and CEO of UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies said, as per the press release. 

“By adding surge units, postponing non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures, and by relying on our dedicated staff and providers who are picking up additional shifts, we are expanding our capacity while continuing to provide excellent care for our patients and the communities we serve.”

Tom Gonzales, the Larimer County Public Health Director has extended his heartfelt thanks to the numerous healthcare workers who have taken on extra shifts under these strenuous circumstances, and says that county hospitals are proactively managing and monitoring every update in this pandemic and "are finding creative solutions to be able to provide exceptional care for all patients.”

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine or to register for an appointment to get your shot, visit www.larimer.org/covidvaccine.

For the latest and most accurate COVID-19 information regarding Larimer County, visit www.larimer.org/covid19 or www.CDC.gov/coronavirus.

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