Hospitals a concern as Utah sets new record for COVID-19 cases
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials say the state set another one-day record for the increase in COVID-19 cases from the day before on Thursday.
The Utah Department of Health reported 1,501 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, a new record, for a total of 81,947 since the outbreak began.
But the concern goes beyond the basic numbers, according to Dr. Emily Spivak, an infectious disease physician with the University of Utah. She said ICU capacity was filling up quickly at her hospital.
“This morning our medical intensive care unit was 95% full,” Spivak said. “We do have the capacity, and people are working to essentially build out other intensive care unit capacity, transition other units, but for us and what this reflects to me, is — we are maximizing the system.”
There are currently 237 people hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19. 86 of those patients require intensive care unit treatment. Statewide, health officials say 73% of all ICU beds are taken.
Spivak began to cry after she was asked what it’s like for healthcare workers dealing with rising COVID-19 cases. She said their hospital administration is very mindful of the physical and mental stress doctors and nurses are going through, but, she constantly hears heartbreaking stories from caregivers.
“They feel very overwhelmed,” Spivak said. “We feel supported and we have great leadership, but people are really tired. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
The problem, according to Spivak, is people not wearing masks. She says it’s a very simple choice to wear one, or not.
“If we choose the latter, we can all plan on remaining in this current state of uncertainty, experiencing lockdowns, virtual schools, cancelled sporting events and holidays without loved ones,” she said.
While Utah COVID-19 cases result in hospitalization just over 5% of the time, meaning nearly 95% do not require hospitalization, about 1% wind up needing ICU care, according to figures from state health officials. Another 1% require ventilator treatment, the data shows.
“It is a concern statewide, especially when our main referral health care centers are maxing out of their ICUs, that means there’s going to be limited capacity,” Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah’s state epidemiologist said. “As flu season ramps up and other respiratory diseases come in the fall, you know, are we going to eventually need to move towards crisis standards of care?”
Dunn urges everyone who can get a flu vaccine to get one as soon as possible.
“You can get the flu vaccine right now and we really need everybody out there who is able to get the flu vaccine to get it to limit the strain on our health care systems.”
Utah reported five additional deaths Thursday, in patients ranging in age from 45 to over 85. Three of those were residents of long-term care facilities. The other two were neither long-term care patients nor were they patients in a hospital.
State officials estimate 60,220 of the COVID-19 cases in Utah to date to be “recovered.” That means diagnosis was more than three weeks ago, and the patient did not die.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, 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.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away 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.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707