By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise and could do so for weeks to come. In an update about the state’s response, Gov. Jared Polis says Colorado now has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“For whatever reason our region of the country the Mountain West and is experiencing a significant rise,” Polis said.

(credit: CBS)

The fight here, he says, is against the unvaccinated and the state’s response will focus on increasing hospital capacity instead of issuing more mandates.

“They are clogging our hospitals and I think most Coloradans are sick and tired of wearing masks to protect people who don’t want to protect themselves,” he said.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy says if transmission continues at this rate, we will likely see a peak of about 1,500 people in hospitals by late November or early December.

With more people moving inside because of the weather, Herlihy says it’s likely that number could reach 1,900.

“Based on the current number of beds we have available in Colorado plus the number of patients hospitalized with COVID, we think that max capacity is probably around 2,000 beds,” Herlihy said.

The push now is for more COVID positive patients to get monoclonal antibody treatment early in their infection to keep them out of the hospital.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment incident commander Scott Bookman says they’ve launched three mobile buses in areas with high case rates and calling for more support.

“We have reached out to our federal partners to see whether there are any additional federal teams that can come in and support our efforts here,” he said.

A frustrated Polis believes our current numbers could have been prevented.

“We have the ability to end the pandemic, we need the will to end the pandemic,” he said.

The monoclonal antibody treatment when used by COVID positive patients can reduce the chance of being admitted to the hospital by 70%. Learn more about the treatment or where to access it.

Karen Morfitt