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LTTE: A message from Larimer County Public Health

Graphic illustration depicting a letter on a coffee table that reads "Letter to the Editor" surrounded by a coffee cup, pencil and loose papers.
(Graphic Illustration by Christine Moore-Bonbright | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

After hearing the state’s concerns about community spread in our area as well as listening to Larimer County hospital systems describe the serious challenges they are facing due to increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Larimer County Board of Health voted to support the state’s request that our community transition to Level Red.

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Leaders from both UCHealth and Banner Health reported that they are nearing capacity in their hospital systems and are experiencing severe staffing shortages. They asked the BoH to support the State’s request for Larimer County to transition to Level Red. These changes will go into effect 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24. Information regarding Level Red can be found here

The BoH’s decision to support the state and hospital systems did not come lightly. Following a 90-minute deliberative conversation, including careful review of community data and a discussion about the economic impact to the community, the BoH determined that supporting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s request to move Larimer County into Level Red would be an appropriate approach to reducing the transmission of the virus at this time. The BoH shared its concerns regarding the community’s economic and mental health and called on our state and federal government to strongly consider relief for all the people and businesses impacted by the third wave of the pandemic.

We hope our time at Level Red will be short, and we will strongly encourage continued community support of our businesses as they innovate and adapt to these difficult changes once again.”

The move to Level Red “is a result of rapidly increasing COVID-19 case counts, positivity rates across all age groups and significant impacts to hospital utilization within Larimer County over the past several weeks,” according to a release from Larimer County. As of Nov. 23, Larimer County’s COVID-19 14-day incidence rate is holding steady at just under 900 out of 100,000 people, and the percent positivity rate is 12.7%; both numbers have increased significantly since early September. 

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, hospitalizations overall and Intensive Care Unit usage continue to increase in Larimer County and in our hospital systems. UCHealth and Banner Health are reporting: 

  • 94 patients in their Larimer County hospitals with COVID-19, up from 51 patients reported on Nov. 9.
  • Both Banner Health and UCHealth reported to the Board of Health that their hospitals are nearing capacity, and they are having severe medical staffing challenges.

Larimer County businesses are at the heart of our community. The BoH and Larimer County Health Department staff understand that moving to Level Red will impact our businesses. We hope our time at Level Red will be short, and we will strongly encourage continued community support of our businesses as they innovate and adapt to these difficult changes once again. 

What can we do to reduce our time at Level Red? Right now, it is critical that every Larimer County resident take the steps needed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. That means:

  • Only gather with the people you live with. Now isn’t the time to have people over or to go
    out in groups.
  • Wear a mask when you enter a business and whenever you’re around people you do not
    live with.
  • Wash hands, and clean surfaces often.
  • Maintain social distancing with those you do not live with.
  • Be diligent in your efforts to keep yourself, family, friends and neighbors safe.

We’re all getting tired of this, but we need to redouble our efforts. Every single positive COVID-19 case in Larimer County is a backward step for the entire community. We have more testing and knowledge than we did in April, but today, transmission is greater, cases are higher and our hospitals are really struggling with the impact. We are so fortunate to live in a community where people care about each other. Let’s draw from that care and concern to stop this third wave of the pandemic, reduce the trend of positive cases and hospitalizations and move our community out of Level Red.

Tom Gonzales

Larimer County public health director

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Letters may be sent to letters@collegian.com. When submitting letters, please abide by the guidelines listed at collegian.com.

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