DENVER (CBS4) – In a Thursday news briefing, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials say that social distancing is working in the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“The updated information leads us to believe that we’ve pushed the peak into May, at least. We’re still trying to gather more accurate information to figure out exactly when it will happen, but the social distancing has worked and we’ve pushed that cure to the right as we hoped to do,” said Scott Bookman, the Incident Commander for CDPHE.
Bookman and Mike Willis, the Director of the Office of Emergency Management, have long maintained that the goal of social distancing was to hold off a surge of COVID-19 positive cases until the state’s health care system could scale up to handle them.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are 6,202 cases of coronavirus in Colorado, with 1,221 hospitalizations in 56 counties. So far, 31,180 people have been tested for COVID-19 and there have been 226 deaths with 54 outbreaks in the state.
During the media briefing, Bookman and Willis outlined many important developments on that front. The state is working hard on two alternate care facilities at the Colorado Convention Center and The Ranch in Loveland. The goal is to bring them online in order to “decompress our hospitals.”
“It’s really important to remember, to keep reminding the public, people should not go to these first. They should go to their provider or their regular hospital first. These sites are specifically designed to decompress the hospital system, and so they won’t accept walk-in patients directly at the site,” Willis explained.
Bookman reported that the state has an excess of ventilators right now, and is working diligently to bring more here in anticipation of a surge of critical patients. Willis confirmed that the state has acquired refrigeration trucks that are currently being held in reserve should they be needed.
“The Innovation Response Team continues to pursue a variety of strong leads on sterilization equipment, and I think we’ll see some of their efforts come to bear soon,” Willis said.
Willis said that emergency management officials are looking at various forms of sterilization, like UV sterilization and aerosol hydrogen peroxide for PPE.
“We asked the federal government to provide a sterilization machine, actually we’ve asked for two, produced by Patel, that would potentially sterilize 100,000 N95 masks per day,” Willis explained.
The state has set aside $58 million to buy equipment to fight the pandemic, much of which officials believe they’ll get reimbursed for by various federal agencies.
When asked how long they believe social distancing would need to stay in place, both Willis and Bookman indicated that coronavirus is here now, and until there is a vaccine, precautions are going to need to be taken.
“Some social distancing will still be necessary as we come out of the first wave. It’s going to be necessary to change our habits, in particular to save our vulnerable populations,” Willis said.
The indication being that we may see a second wave of infections, some months after the first one subsides.