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Why emergency rooms are prepping for more COVID-19 cases

SALT LAKE CITY– Hospital emergency rooms in Utah are preparing for the potential of many more coronavirus patients. Emergency Room Doctor at St. Marks Hospital, Dr. Jeremy Voros, joined KSL this morning for our Coronavirus call-in program.

He was asked about the severity of the coronavirus, compared to others, like the seasonal flu.

Dr. Voros reported those who have the virus now can spread the virus before they have symptoms. Making the coronavirus more likely to spread through a community because people who do not seem sick can transmit it to others.

Additionally, the coronavirus is twice as transmittable as the flu. Meaning somebody with coronavirus will infect two to four other people whereas the flu only infects one or two others.

This alone contributes to a much more rapid spread of the virus. The hospitalization rates for patients infected with COVID-19 is around 10 to 14 percent, which is significantly higher than influenza.

Dr. Voros says that it starts to impact the overall system.

Dr. Voros said “the problem there is that starts to put an increased strain on the health care system, so more and more patients are requiring entrance into the hospital. And if the hospitals become overrun, or they fill up, then you start to worry about patients with other illnesses who can’t get adequate care because of an overrun health care system.”

It does not necessarily spread throughout a community, but it then overturns the health care system that provides for everyone.

“Add on top of that a mortality rate somewhere in the one to four percent range,” Dr. Voros said, “and it has significant potential to cause huge numbers of deaths in the United States, far outweighing even just the seasonal flu or something like H1N1 that caused far more deaths than the regular seasonal flu.”

Currently, about 100 people are hospitalized in Utah with the Coronavirus, which is just about ten percent of the overall cases.