Utah Hospitals Fill Up as COVID-19 Cases Increase

The Utah Department of Health announced 1,201 new cases of COVID-19 Monday with two new deaths in Washington County and Garfield County. Iron County has 15 new cases since Sunday, while Southern Utah University reported seven last Thursday. 

Although cases are down from the state’s peak of 1,960 just last week, the seven-day average sits at 1,494 positive test results. Only 5,745 test results were reported since Sunday, which is the lowest amount in the past two weeks.

Currently Utah hospitals are beginning to meet capacity, leading health officials to prepare to “ration care.” 

According to an article published by The Salt Lake Tribune, administrators of the state’s hospitals are proposing criteria to help doctors determine patient priority over another, due to overcrowding. This criteria will require Gov. Gary Herbert’s approval, and is expected to be needed within the next two weeks. 

Although the state is prepared to provide more room for COVID-19 patients, there is still a severe lack in staff. According to Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, hospital staff is at an all-time low. 

We’re down 20% to 30%. Hundreds and hundreds of nurses are not able to work as they were [before] because of their own disease or infection in the family, or they’re moms and dads with school issues. Some are worn out, some are on leave because they’ve been doing this for seven months,” Bell said. 

Utah intensive care units are at 75% capacity, and Bell warns that they cannot function at 100%. Those suffering from COVID-19 are not the only ones needing medical attention, which means hospital staff are spread thin. 

Due to the record breaking number of cases last week, hospitalizations are likely to increase even more this week than they did last.

Story by Amanda Walton
Photo Courtesy of SUU News