Ventilator

Demonstration of a ventilator, courtesy NS Medical Devices.

The model cited by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington-Seattle has misled Coloradans into thinking the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak is over, according to the Colorado Hospital Association.

The association's Dr. Darlene Tad-y, vice president of clinical affairs, said Tuesday that the April 6 data "doesn't align with what is happening in Colorado hospitals currently."

Tad-y sad there were 1,228 Coloradans hospitalized as of Tuesday morning with COVID-19, a number that has grown steadily since mid-March. Many of these patients require oxygen, and a smaller group, about 20% of those hospitalized, require critical care, including ventilators. 

However, Tad-y pointed out, the IHME's model suggests that 110 ventilators would be adequate. "We know that there are nearly four times that number of patients on ventilators in Colorado hospitals today," she said. 

Not only does this undercut the volume of COVID-19 patients, but it misses other ICU patients who may need to be on a ventilator as well.

"We are all looking forward to the day when we can return to more normal way of life," but as Gov. Jared Polis said Monday. "We are not there yet."

"We ask that the public continue their heroic role by staying home and social distancing," Tad-y said.

Public health officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Monday also criticized the IHME model. Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said Monday that while the state is considering the IHME model, the best model is one developed by the Colorado School of Public Health, using real-time Colorado data. She said the IHME model uses different assumptions than the ones modeled by the School of Public Health.

Herlihy said the IHME model uses social distancing strategies from the pandemic when it hit Wuhan, China, not the same strategies employed in Colorado, she said. In addition, the Colorado model assumes those in intensive care units will need ventilators, an assumption not built into the IHME model. "We are certain the peak has not hit," said Dr. Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the CDPHE executive director.

The hospital association applauded Polis for extending the stay-at-home order until April 26. 

The IHME model on Monday showed that Colorado had reached its peak for resource use for COVID-19 on April 4. That model is used by the White House to chart the pandemic, according to the Washington Post. The Post also said state leaders are afraid that the White House is using the model to deny state requests for equipment. 

Colorado has received only a fraction of the personal protective equipment requested from the Strategic National Stockpile, and on Friday, Gov. Jared Polis told CNN's Don Lemon that the Federal Emergency Management Agency swooped in and took an order Colorado had place for 500 ventilators with a company in China.

As of last week, the state had received from the national stockpile:

  • 220,010 N95 masks (2.5 million requested)
  • 517,000 surgical masks (4.46 million requested)
  • 100,232 face shields (880,000 requested)
  • 100,140 surgical gowns (720,000 requested)
  • 504,000 gloves (4.3 million requested)
  • 3,816 coveralls

The state has also asked for 10,000 ventilators. Not one has been sent from the stockpile, although there have also been reports that the ventilators coming from the stockpile don't work.

A call to the IHME has not yet been returned.

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