How are rural communities preparing for a potential RSV surge?



The latest update from CDPHE showed nearly 900 people in the Denver metro area have been hospitalized with RSV since October.

COLORADO, USA — The sudden surge in RSV cases is mostly impacting the Denver metro area. The latest update from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment showed nearly 900 people in the Denver metro area have been hospitalized with RSV since October. More than 90% of those cases are kids. 

RELATED: Family offers warning after 2 children diagnosed with RSV

But some in health care say it’s only a matter of time before the surge hits the rural communities. Michelle Mills, CEO of the Colorado Rural Health Center, spoke to 9NEWS about the potential impact. 

(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for context and clarity.) 

9NEWS: What does the Colorado Rural Health Center do? 

Mills: We’re the state office of rural health and rural health associations, and we have the honor of being able to serve and support our 47 rural communities. Primarily our work centers around helping rural hospitals and rural clinics.

Is there concern about the rural communities being impacted by this surge in RSV cases?

Mills: We’re starting to see a little bit of an uptick. Nothing super high like Denver right now, but folks are preparing. We know it’s a “when” not an “if” type of a situation, so our folks are preparing.

RELATED: Hospitals have few beds as RSV surges

I think the resort communities are definitely the biggest concerns with the Thanksgiving holiday coming next week, and we get a lot of folks from out of town, and unfortunately when folks come in, so do germs and then that tends to spread through the community.

What is preparation like for this potential wave?

Mills: I think preparation comes from staffing, and I know all across Colorado and I would say nationally I would say one of the biggest concerns we have is around workforce and staffing and having enough workforce. In addition to patients coming in presenting with illness, we have to think about staff as well.

I think starting to prepare with public health. Most counties are starting to look at their wastewater testing as a way to determine if there’s COVID or flu or other things in our community, and preparing for masking and other types of potential restrictions that might have to take place and really trying to prepare stuff mentally as well to engage in those activities again.

Any message for those in the Denver metro area looking to visit the mountains this holiday season?

Mills: Stay home and be safe, and come out to visit when you’re healthy.

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