According to Colorado’s top health officials, the state’s COVID-19 rates are now the highest they’ve ever been—even compared to March and April when the virus first ravaged the state. In the last day alone, 3,369 new cases have been reported, and it’s now estimated that 1 in every 100 Coloradans are infected with the virus. Currently, 894 people are also hospitalized because of the disease, a new record that beats the previous high of 884 set on April 14.

“I really hope that’s a wake up call for Coloradans,” Governor Jared Polis said Thursday afternoon at a virtual briefing, urging people to continue with current safety measures like wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing physical distancing. Most importantly, Polis strongly urged—but stopped short of mandating—that Coloradans avoid interacting with people outside of their household. “Each of us needs to do better. We need to see less people, as difficult as that might be for the next month.”

State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy added that the data shows no sign of plateauing any time soon.

“I want to emphasize that we believe there is more COVID circulating in Colorado right now than at the beginning of the pandemic,” she said during the press conference. She also noted that in early fall, most cases came from younger age groups that commonly suffer less severe outcomes after contracting the virus. Now, cases are increasing among Colorado’s older age groups, which Herlihy explained is behind the severe uptick in hospitalization rates.

More grim news: According to state health department data reported by the Denver Post, as of Wednesday, 1,611 of the 1,941 intensive-care beds across the state were full, and 7,708 out of 9,377 beds for general medical needs are currently in use, as well. And while hospitals now have a better idea of how to treat the virus than they did in the spring, Herlihy stressed that if things continue at this rate, ICUs could hit capacity by late December.

Polis emphasized that he was proud of Coloradans for how they responded early in the pandemic by doing their part to help mitigate the spread of the virus. He went on to explain, though, that things have shifted and the state cannot afford a November that looks like October.

“Colorado, I love you,” he said. “But this is an intervention.”

Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill is 5280’s former associate digital editor.