PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Thursday, the Pueblo Department of Health and Environment issued new COVID-19 numbers detailing that 78 people in Pueblo are hospitalized with COVID-19. According to officials, that's the highest amount of hospitalizations since January 2020.
From October 13th-20th, there have been 15 COVID deaths in Pueblo, including a two-year-old child, according to Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar. For comparison, there were 22 deaths in the entire month of September 2021.
At the state level, health leaders have expressed their concerns with the uptick in cases overall. Thursday, Governor Jared Polis said, "Those that have not been vaccinated will wind up in the hospital as 1,100 Coloradans are right now."
At the local level, Pueblo city leaders and health care leaders find the rising number of hospitalizations and deaths worrisome for the Pueblo community.
"The problem we are having is is that our hospital capacity is almost exhausted," Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar said.
Pueblo Health Director, Randy Evetts, added, "Our hospitals are at capacity, which means not only is it difficult for COVID patients to have a bed but it's difficult for patients who might be having a heart attack or have a trauma or others to have a hospital bed or intensive care availability."
According to PDHE, there are 35 COVID outbreaks in Pueblo right now. Nine are new this week and six are linked to Pueblo area schools.
"It just reflects that we have a high level of transmission in our community. We have certainly seen this before where we just have a high number of outbreaks, but those outbreaks because people are coming to work sick, they are going to school sick, they are participating in activities and not taking the precautions," Evetts said.
During the governor's COVID press conference Thursday, the chart below was shared. It shows where Pueblo stands when it comes to the percentage of the population fully vaccinated and the 14-day hospitalization rate per 100k people.
Evetts contributes this trend to the low 58% vaccination rate in Pueblo County.
"Around eighty percent of the folks that are hospitalized are unvaccinated, and so it definitely contributes to the increased hospitalizations. Our hospitalizations would be much more manageable if everybody was vaccinated," Evetts said.
Currently, both the Mayor and Health Director have stopped short of considering a mask mandate or lower capacity limits in city buildings, but it may be soon if the numbers continue to worsen.
"If it gets worse, then we will have to increase the mitigation measures that we take to deal with it," Gradisar said.