DENVER — At the end of March, Rose Medical Center celebrated zero COVID patients in their hospital for the first time since the pandemic began.
"Seventeen days, our hospital was completely at zero," said Katie Stewart, ICU nurse. "So, longer than I thought."
Those few short days of being COVID-free are now long gone.
"I think we're settling into kind of a new normal. COVID's here to stay for a while," said Dr. Andrew Weinfeld, chief medical officer. "We expect it. There's much less surprise about it."
Right now, Colorado's seven-day average case count is a little more than 1,900 cases reported.
However, Weinfeld said that number, in reality, is probably much higher due to people using at-home tests.
"I think when you look at what's going on with our communities and stuff, it's a good reminder that I think we're underreporting the amount of COVID that's in our communities," he said.
But, does it matter that cases are being undercounted?
“I think if people are following the guidelines and doing what they’re supposed to do it probably at this point in time doesn’t matter because it’s so prevalent in our community and so many people have either had it or are getting it that it probably doesn’t matter as much as in the beginning," said Weinfeld. “What matters is following the guidelines of masking and quarantining when appropriate.”
Weinfeld said the BA.5 strain is very contagious and spreads at a high rate.
"We still have some COVID but it's not overwhelming us as much," said Stewart.
She said one patient died from COVID this week. There are two other COVID patients at Rose Medical Center right now and 68 total across HealthONE's other hospitals.
“We’re seeing the patients still are quite sick when they come in if they’re unvaccinated, but vaccinated patients we're really not seeing and if they're in the hospital, we happen to find out they have COVID and their main reason for coming in isn't from COVID, it's from some other disease process," said Stewart.
She said unvaccinated patients are typically the ones that are coming to the hospital very ill and in critical condition, just like at the beginning of the pandemic.
"I think the vaccine is keeping people out of the hospital, to be honest," said Weinfeld. “We know so much more about the virus, about caring for patients, about expected outcomes of patients, about treatment than we ever did. So, like I said, I think it becomes more of just routine care for our patients.”
He said vaccines are still working and crucial to combatting the virus.
Though, he said if you haven't gotten COVID yet, it's likely that you will.
“I think you’re going to get COVID and I think the majority of people are not going to get super sick anymore, especially if you’re vaccinated," said Weinfeld. "Be reassured that most people come through this just fine."
If you do feel sick and end up testing positive for COVID, CDC guidelines say to quarantine for five days and then mask for five days, so you don't spread the virus to others.
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