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COVID increases in Colorado as monoclonal therapy becomes available – reduced hospitalization and death by 70%

By: Amber McIver-Traywick | The Surveyor | November 11, 2021 | Local News

Colorado is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations despite according to health officials reaching a partial vaccination rate of 80 percent. During press conferences last week Governor Jared Polis announced the state is seeking staffing help for hospitals from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and discussed how those who are infected with the virus can seek out monoclonal antibody therapy across the state.

Polis recently signed two executive orders in an effort to help the state’s hospitals, some of which are at or have exceeded their quality-of-care standards. Colorado currently has the fifth-highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the county and an estimated one in 51 Coloradans are contagious. One order allows hospital’s emergency departments to turn away patients, directing them to other facilities, while the other clarifies when “Crisis Standards of Care” can be activated to ration care to those individuals medical professionals deem most likely to survive. Both orders are set to expire in a month but can be reactivated.

On Friday Nov. 5, Colorado health officials released COVID-19 modeling along with a new report warning that if nothing changed, 1,393 people could be hospitalized with the virus by late November. Three days later the numbers in the state had exceeded those projections.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Monday afternoon reported 283 people had been admitted to hospitals statewide with the virus in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total number of those hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 to 1,394. According to CDPHE 17% of hospital beds in the state are occupied by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. As of Tuesday, the state’s positivity rate was 11.60% with Larimer County seeing a 9.40% rate.

Last week Polis said, “The delta variant is brutally effective at seeking out the unvaccinated, like a laser-guided missile,” referring to the strain of the virus that’s become dominant since June. “It’s never been more dangerous for an unvaccinated person than it is right now.” He continued by saying, ”The pandemic can be over for you when you choose to be vaccinated.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander explained that the state has partnered with the federal government to bring monoclonal antibody treatment to Colorado as another tool to combat the virus but said the vaccine was the best option. According to the Federal Drug Administration monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm. Monoclonal antibodies may also neutralize the virus.

“We are estimating that at the peak of our pandemic in late November or early December…,” state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said. Herlihy estimated that if about half of people who are eligible for monoclonal antibodies received them, it would cut hospitalizations at the upcoming peak by more than 20%.

Bookman said the treatments were made available to the state through emergency authorization and provided to the state by the federal government.  Bookman continued by saying if you are experiencing any symptoms you should be tested for the COVID-19 virus as soon as possible as the treatment is only effective within the first 10 days of infection, once a hospitalization is required it is too late. The treatment has been shown to reduce the likelihood of hospitalization by 70 to 80 percent. The treatment is however reserved for those at a higher risk of hospitalization and with underlying conditions including those over the age of 65, being overweight, those with chronic disease and other preexisting conditions.

Health officials recommend contacting your doctor or health care provider for more information about COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment. You may be eligible for treatment based on your COVID-19 test, onset of symptoms, and medical condition, or based on your exposure risk and vaccination history. There are currently 161 providers enrolled to administer the treatment including hospitals, pharmacies, long-term care facilities, infusion centers and mobile units the state will deploy in the coming weeks.

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