Denver’s hospitals, particularly its intensive care units, may not be prepared for what’s to come with the coronavirus.
According to new data released by the Harvard Global Health Institute, in a “moderate scenario” wherein 40% of Denver’s adult population contracted the disease, hospitals across the city could see an estimated 195,000 coronavirus patients over a one-year period.
The influx of patients would require nearly three times the number of available beds in that time period.
As of 2018, Denver had less than 5,600 total hospital beds. About 59% of those beds were occupied, meaning only about 2,270 beds were open for new patients.
Of that count, 840 beds were in ICUs, which are the “best equipped” to handle “the most acute” coronavirus cases, according to data from the American Hospital Association and the American Hospital Directory.
In Denver, ICUs would be “especially overwhelmed and require additional capacity,” HGHI researchers found in collaboration with ProPublica, a nonprofit investigation journalism organization.
“Without coronavirus patients, there are only 330 available beds on average in intensive care units, which is 4.2 times less than what is needed to care for all severe cases,” researchers noted.
Bob McDonald, the executive director of Denver’s public health department, said on Monday that the city’s hospitals currently are not at risk of running out of hospital beds nor falling short of ventilators. The city is still preparing for the situation, however, should hospitals reach capacity.
About 12% of Denver’s population is over the age of 65, meaning they could be at greater risk of hospitalization and fatality from COVID-19.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 183 positive COVID-19 cases across 19 counties, with 20 people hospitalized. Two fatalities from the contagious illness have been reported, the most recent being a Weld County man in his 70s.