Help us slow COVID-19 in our community

An open letter to the community

From Carol Plock, Executive Director, Health District of Northern Larimer County; Kevin Unger, President/CEO, UCHealth North Region; John Santistevan, CEO/President, Salud Family Health Centers; and Craig Luzinski, CEO, Associates in Family Medicine

As we enter the holiday season, we are threatened by an alarming wave of COVID-19 cases that could be devastating for our community if we don’t take immediate action.  We are asking for your help in slowing this virus down.

Here and throughout the country, hospital beds are filling with COVID-19 patients. In Colorado, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has already exceeded the peak reached in early April. Nearly every age group has been affected, with those over 30 being most at risk of hospitalization.

If this trend continues, Colorado could exceed intensive care unit capacity soon. And health care is already experiencing challenges in maintaining adequate staffing, as the pandemic impacts our critically important health care workers.

The past year has taught us how to better treat COVID-19, allowing us to save many patients who previously might have died. Still, the disease can cause serious heart, lung, and kidney damage to survivors, and can still be fatal. For many people infected with COVID-19, impacts continue long past the initial illness – for months or forever. Being hospitalized with COVID-19 also puts financial and emotional burden on patients and families.

The impacts aren’t just physical. A recent study found nearly one in five COVID-19 patients was later diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia.

The pandemic has also led to unprecedented economic challenges to businesses and families, with too many struggling with where to get their next meal and how they will pay their rent. Controlling the virus is essential to keeping our local businesses going.

We can help limit the human suffering of COVID-19 by taking simple steps NOW that amount to selfless acts of charity for our family, friends, and neighbors.

You can help make a very real difference in slowing COVID’s spread by celebrating this Thanksgiving holiday differently - by spending an intimate day of gratitude with just your immediate household members, instead of with relatives and friends from outside your home.

Avoiding the temptation to meet with others during the holidays, in large or small groups, will impact health, lives, and the economy. Attending many small gatherings with people you know is just as risky as one big get-together.

It’s also important right now to go out only when it’s essential and to take multiple precautions when you do go out. That means wearing a face-covering AND maintaining at least six feet of distance from others.  Structure your encounters so that you spend no more than 15 minutes with those outside your household, and if you must meet others, meet them outside whenever possible.

It’s been a long and trying year, and we are all understandably tired of this pandemic. However, the virus is not tired of infecting us. As we enter this critical period, the choices we make now may determine who lives to see next year and who carries the scars of COVID-19 with them for a lifetime.