State lawmaker and medical doctor warns of COVID-19 burnout and increasing number of statewide cases

Dr. Caraveo: COVID-19 fatigue influencing positivity rate
Posted at 12:30 AM, Oct 22, 2020

THORNTON, Colo. -- Colorado has now hit another grim milestone: 1,200 new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row. As of Wednesday night, there were more than 530 hospital beds in use by confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients, up from Tuesday's number of 516.

As we move through this dangerous "third wave,” hospital staff, as well as local doctors and nurses say this is the wrong time to let your guard down.

At Peak Pediatrics in Thornton, doctors say things went from quiet to chaotic in a matter of hours this week.

“Yesterday, we had five cases of coronavirus, just in this office,” said Dr. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician who is also the only medical doctor in the Colorado state legislature serving as a representative. “It’s as if the flood gates have opened the past couple days.”

11-year-old Liam Olson was in getting his flu shot Wednesday. His mom, Cat, was just thankful for his health at this point.

"We're trucking through it,” said Cat Olson. “It's been rough with the kids being in hybrid learning. We're just doing what we can and trying to stay positive about it."

Liam is certainly glad to be back in school.

"It’s a lot better than remote learning because I enjoy being in school," he said.

But kids in class, colder weather on the horizon and an increase in new cases of the novel coronavirus has doctors like Caraveo anxious about what could be next.

"I was wondering where the sick kids were,” she said. “And - they're here now. Over the past two days – we’ve really seen a spike in clinic.”

Her clinic now has five machines for COVID-19 and flu testing.

"It's a molecular test,” Caraveo said. “It comes back in 10 or 15 minutes."

Caraveo treated one family this week with five kids, two positive for coronavirus, one positive for the flu.

"It was really devastating,” Caraveo said. “The mom started to cry, and I could see all that stress kind of welling up in her. Dad was completely uninsured, so when we offered him a test, he had to decide if he wanted to pay $50 out-of-pocket. Whether he could afford that.”

Caraveo says she, herself, has lost sleep over the recent cases she’s seen.

“Last night I kind of stayed up and was thinking about, 'I really hope that the kids are still okay, that they’re breathing okay.' One was having an asthma flare.”

Caraveo and her colleagues are now pleading with families to take this wave seriously as COVID-19 fatigue appears to be showing up in the positivity rate.

“I think that people are hitting a wall,” Caraveo said. “That’s understandable. I'm tired of wearing a mask all day. I have to wear it for about ten hours. It seems like a little thing, but we need to take care of each other through the winter. The vaccine will come, but we still have months of this before everyone is vaccinated.”

She believes it will be several more months before that’s a reality.

“I’m tired,” Caraveo said. “Everybody’s tired of these restrictions, but they’re not ending anytime soon.”