SALT LAKE CITY – Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have seen a plateau in Utah, averaging around 560 a day recently. But at least one doctor is also worried about the possibility of a “surge within a surge”.
Intermountain Healthcare infectious disease physician Dr. Tom Vento believes it is too early to tell what is causing Utah’s hospitalizations to plateau. During a news conference on Monday, he expressed “cautious optimism” the state had turned a corner.
Concerns, however, remain.
One of the biggest is Thanksgiving. Thousands of Utahns disregarded public health guidelines and got on an airplane to visit relatives.
Others invited family over like they usually do.
“Are we going to have what’s being called, ‘A surge within a surge’?” Vento asked. “If that were to happen, that’s when I think you would see what people are considering to be a tipping point of having to transition into…crisis standards of care.”
Another huge issue is staffing.
Dr. Vento said the hospitals are “managing” by moving nurses and doctors from other departments to help treat COVID-19 patients.
But their ability to use staff from other states is limited since those areas are seeing surges as well.
“Knowing the reality of what’s happening in our communities, we’re still concerned we’ll go to a situation where there’s even higher hospitalizations and more difficulty managing the volumes that we will see,” Vento said.
In that case, the hospitals may have to implement their crisis level of care.
Dr. Vento and others will not know for another two weeks how many Utahns will end up in the hospital after being exposed to COVID-19 during Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, he encouraged people to wear masks and keep social distancing to slow the spread and help hospitals.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is 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.
- 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.
Resources for more information:
State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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