SALT LAKE CITY – Hospitalizations overall have stabilized in Utah in recent weeks. However, at least one doctor expects intensive care units ( ICUs ) to be at max capacity for the next couple of months.
During a news conference on Friday, Intermountain Healthcare infectious disease specialist Dr. Eddie Stenehjem said ICUs are treating more patients than they normally do.
“We’ve expanded our ICU into one of our cardiac floors and, so, we’ve taken a general medical floor and converted part of it into ICU rooms,” Stenehjem said. “Now, our COVID[-19] patients are overflowing into that ICU and also into the cardiac intensive care unit, into the neuro-ICU.”
Dr. Stenehjem credited Governor Gary Herbert’s recent mandates on things like mask wearing for bringing cases down.
But he expects to see more people in the hospital in the next few days because of Thanksgiving.
“We anticipate this probably pretty sizeable wave of infections,” Stenejem said.
Hospital workers are also worried about Christmas gatherings spreading COVID-19 and leading to more hospitalizations.
Coronaviruses in general also tend to spread more during the fall and winter months.
Dr. Stenehjem said another worry is flu season. Although they have not seen many flu patients in the ICUs yet, flu season in Utah typically starts in December.
Right now, hospitals are moving patients around to better handle the load.
“We have dozen of patients in Utah Valley, McKay [Dee], and St. George, Riverton, Altaview. All of our hospitals are essentially operating to their max capacity from an ICU standpoint,” Stenejem said.
He also encouraged Utahns to keep wearing masks and not go to social gatherings outside their households.
He believes many Utahns took the advice of health officials and stayed home during Thanksgiving, which helped keep hospitalizations stable.
Utah reported 587 people in the hospital with COVID-19 on Friday.
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