By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Health experts, elected officials and others are warning of a drastic increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations in northern Colorado to the point Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is calling it a “time for concern.”  CBS4’s Dillon Thomas has learned multiple hospitals in the region are at, or near, capacity due to COVID-19 cases.

The Delta variant of the virus is surging throughout the United States, and northern Colorado isn’t exempt.

In a Facebook post Saturday morning, Smith said 100% of ICU beds in Larimer County were filled, citing a briefing from Larimer County’s health director.

“Here in (northern Colorado) all of our hospitals are almost at capacity. We have people holding in our emergency rooms. We have rooms in our ICU where we have two patients instead of one,” said Marilyn Schaefer, North Region Director for Respiratory Therapy at UCHealth.

For the first time some of UCHealth’s hospitals in the region are having to double up patients in ICU rooms.

(credit: CBS)

Schaefer said UCHealth is now borrowing ventilators from outside entities to ensure it is prepared for potential future demand. After the vaccines were made available to the general public, health experts hoped the pressures on local hospitals would lighten. However, in recent weeks, hospitalizations have more than doubled for many hospitals.

“We were all really hopeful that we were on the downslope of the virus and could get things back to normal. But, as it turned out, our numbers have significantly increased. Our positivity rates have really started to trend in a direction that makes the health care community uneasy,” Schaefer said.

Smith encouraged his social media followers to get vaccinated in order to avoid hospitalization and further spread, noting the vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness.

(credit: CBS)

“All vaccines come with some risk of side effects and the COVID vaccines are no different. Thankfully, the side effects of the current COVID vaccines have been statistically low overall,” Smith wrote. “The one factor that I’m seeing that is affecting this trend is vaccination. Those who have been vaccinated, while not 100% protected are still much less likely to suffer severe symptoms resulting in the need for critical care. If you’ve questioned the efficacy of these vaccines or if you didn’t consider the vaccine to be as critical to you because you were middle aged or younger, now may be the time to reconsider that decision as this variant is demonstrating much more of an impact on you than the earlier variant.”

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Dillon Thomas