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Utah’s COVID-19 Capacity By The Numbers

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Coronavirus Task Force announced numbers showing Utah’s capacity to fight COVID-19. With some of Friday’s good news came drastic needs to protect healthcare workers.

Enough ICU Beds & Ventilators

General Jefferson Burton, newly in charge at the Utah Department of Health, spoke of hard numbers and what will be needed at the peak of COVID-19 cases.

Utah has just under 1,000 ventilators statewide and 28% are currently in use, mostly by non-coronavirus patients. That leaves 72% currently unused and ready for COVID-19 patients.

“Based on the studies and graphs, we believe we will have sufficient ventilators as well in Utah,” said Burton.

Burton said Utah has 600 ICU beds total, statewide. He estimated, along with University of Washington data, that at the peak of the virus around April 21, COVID-19 patients will need 284 ICU beds. Of those 600 beds, about half (297) are in use, mostly by non-coronavirus patients.

The Utah Department of Health indicated that if numbers continue on the current path, Utah will have enough ICU beds to handle the peak of virus patients.

Lots More PPE Needed

While Utah was given bolstering news about hospital capacity, there remain critical issues in treating COVID-19.

“The area we’re struggling with, and that’s changing daily, is PPE, personal protective equipment,” said Burton.

PPE like N95 masks. Utah will need 3.6 million of them, but currently only has 165,000. So far 57,000 have been distributed and three million have been ordered. Shipments arrive daily with these masks.

During the pandemic, 4.7 million hospital gowns will be needed. Utah only has 61,000 on hand and 18,000 have been distributed. Burton said in Friday’s press conference that most healthcare facilities had their own stockpiles of this PPE.

As for face shields, Utah medical workers will need 2.2 million of these. So far Utah has received 76,000, with 13,000 distributed. Burton said these are additional PPE items that are distributed daily to hospitals handling COVID-19 patients.

Alternate Care Centers

Another announcement Friday came from Jess Anderson with the Utah Department of Public Safety. They have set up and supplied an alternate care site with 250 beds for overflow hospital patients, but it won’t be COVID-19 patients that are housed in this facility.

“It is important to note alternate care sites are not for COVID-19 patients,” said Anderson. “The COVID-19 patients would remain in the main hospitals.”


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

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