SALT LAKE CITY — ICU capacity in Utah is quickly approaching 100% statewide, even as daily COVID-19 case counts drop.
While the rolling seven-day average of percent positive COVID-19 test results was 19.9%, just below 20% for the first time since early November, the increased number of patients in hospitals, and particularly ICUs, comes just days after the state reported its first confirmed case of the so-called U.K. variant of coronavirus. That strain, considered more contagious, raises concerns about ICU capacity in Utah moving forward.
Limit gatherings, social distance
Dr. Brandon Webb, a Intermountain Healthcare infectious-diseases physician, said to better control COVID-19 and its latest variation, people need to limit their interactions with those who live outside their immediate household.
“Those gatherings, especially indoors, are the most important driver of transmission,” Webb said.
According to Webb, the U.K. variant of COVID-19 allows virus particles to bind more tightly in our cells than other strains. In other words, with the new strain, it may take less of the virus to cause illness.
The best way to combat that, Webb says is to hunker down, practice social distancing and mask wearing.
“We know those things — they do work,” Webb said. “And we see those borne out with the numbers.”
ICU capacity nearly full in Utah
Out of 573 patients now hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reports 216 require ICU or intensive care treatment. With Utah’s ICU capacity at about 88.5% full, the more beds required for COVID-19 patients in ICUs, means fewer are available for patients with other conditions.
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.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
- 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).
- Obtain a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707