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Polis requests CDC support to fight Colorado flu cases

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Michael McGrady | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Colorado Governor Jared Polis sent a letter this week to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting assistance with the state's response to the seasonal influenza outbreak.

"One of the most significant threats to our continued progress is flu season," Polis wrote in the letter sent on Monday. "My administration has been working diligently to increase our vaccination rates. But we need to do even more this coming flu season, especially among older Coloradans and our vulnerable residents, to reduce the number of flu victims in need of hospitalization and free up those beds for COVID patients if needed."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza has also been concerning for residents in many communities across the state. Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as recent as April 21, shows that the total number of flu-related hospitalizations are well over 3,000 with at least 64 outbreaks in long-term care facilities and one pediatric death. 

A part of the governor's plea for aid includes an assistance pathway to mitigate potential depletion of personal and protective equipment, or PPE, during flu season. The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased access to PPE in the state, but Polis said more will be needed.

"Flu season is going to tax our PPE supplies as those giving vaccinations are going to need medical grade masks, perhaps shields and gloves to ensure they are protected from COVID-19," the letter stated. "While we have much better access to PPE than we did, we are going to need help obtaining more."

The number of reported seasonal influenza cases have also dropped because of the current pandemic. Due to this, Polis said that Colorado requires a crucial infusion of flu vaccines to be properly prepared for the seasonal illness.

Polis and his administration believe that the CDC should be prepared for a "substantial" demand for nasal shot doses or the medicated nasal spray containing the virus.

"This is where we need your help," Polis said to the CDC.