Rise In Utah COVID-19 ICU Patients Causing Capacity Concerns

Oct 1, 2020, 7:58 PM | Updated: 8:01 pm

FILE: Intermountain Medical Center in Murray....

FILE: Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A frontline physician in Utah said his hospital still has capacity for COVID-19 patients, but they are getting very busy.

Throughout the pandemic, medical experts have warned that everyone needs to do what they can to reduce the spread of the virus. Otherwise, Utah’s hospitals could be overwhelmed.

Dr. Clark Bishop said at the governor’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Wednesday that Utah is not there yet, but it could happen if the surge in cases continues.

COVID-19 hospitalization data as of Oct. 1. (Utah Department of Health) COVID-19 hospitalization data as of Oct. 1. (Utah Department of Health)

“This is a miserable, persistent, ugly disease, and whatever we can do to prevent it we ought to do,” said Bishop, a critical care and pulmonary medicine physician at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. “The people who get sick with COVID are very, very sick. Each one that I see, it’s heartbreaking.”

The ICU at Utah Valley Hospital ran out of room Wednesday night, but Bishop said they were able to move patients around within the Intermountain Healthcare system.

“I wish you could see what it’s like to have somebody who’s got COVID and is not sure that they’re going to survive,” said Bishop.

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According to Thursday’s numbers from the Utah Department of Health, there are 201 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 after a high of 203 Wednesday. That’s up 40% from a week ago, and nearly double the number from a month ago.

Among those patients, 76 are in the ICU. As of October 1, 70% of ICU beds statewide were filled.

Dr. Bishop urged Utahns to wear masks, wash their hands and social distance to keep hospitals from running out of resources.

“I wish you could see the fear in families’ eyes when they see somebody transferred to the intensive care unit, afraid that they’re going to die,” Bishop said solemnly.

“These are not just numbers or statistics. These are people,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “These are people being infected and having their lives disrupted.”

Bishop said there are still ventilators and ICU beds available, but they could be overwhelmed if the virus continues to spread.

“It’s way, way better to be able to prevent COVID then to try and treat COVID,” Bishop said.

It’s not just space in the hospitals that worries officials, they want to make sure hospital personnel are not overwhelmed.

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Rise In Utah COVID-19 ICU Patients Causing Capacity Concerns