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Gov. Herbert ends restrictions on elective medical procedures in Utah

(Governor Gary Herbert, speaking at Merit Medical April 21, 2020. Photo credit: Paul Nelson)

SOUTH JORDAN — Hospital and patients waiting to have elective medical procedures got some good news on Tuesday.  The state is lifting the restrictions on those procedures.  However, state officials say reinstating them has to be done carefully.

During his daily COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Gary Herbert said hospitals haven’t been able to perform these kinds of procedures since early March.  The restrictions have come with a heavy cost.

“[Hospitals showed] a willingness, for the good of the whole, to make some sacrifices … a significant financial loss to our hospitals and health care providers,” Gov. Herbert said.

Gov. Herbert made the announcement while visiting the campus of Merit Medical in South Jordan. He cautioned that doctors shouldn’t be rescheduling these procedures all at once.

This is not an on/off switch, as I’ve mentioned.  This is more of an incremental dial twisting here,” he said.

Gov. Herbert says the state will have to closely watch the number of COVID-19 patients across the state during this time.  If the rate of infection ticks back up, the state will likely have to make another adjustment on these procedures.

The Utah Hospital Association will create guidelines for doctors to follow.

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox says, “I think what you’ll see in those recommendations, and I know they’re working on it and they hope to have those out very soon, is it’s mostly outpatient procedures that would not take up bed space.”

Hospitals will likely need more personal protective equipment to handle this kind of demand.  Also, the state will have to ensure health care workers have enough tests for coronavirus to cover the added number of patients coming into hospitals and clinics.

“The patients will need to be tested before having surgery to make sure that they are not COVID-19 positive,” Lt. Governor Cox said.



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How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirusis transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keepchildren and those with compromised immune systemsaway from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States