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Doctors: Utah Hospitals Have Reached ‘Tipping Point’ In Pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with the Utah Hospital Association said the current rate of hospitalizations during the pandemic is unsustainable, and they welcomed Gov. Gary Herbert’s executive order for a statewide mask mandate and other restrictions.

The association held a news conference Monday with four of Utah’s major health care providers and all of them reinforced how serious the current crisis mode is.

“I would submit to you that we are at the tipping point today. We are beyond our normal capacity of caring for patients who are the sickest,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher with Intermountain Healthcare. “I think these next couple of weeks will be very challenging.”

“All of our health care workers are exhausted, both physically and emotionally. They have been caring for our COVID patients since spring,” said Tracey Nixon, chief nursing officer with University of Utah Health. “This current rate and the current hospitalizations we are seeing is unsustainable.”

On Monday, officials with the Utah Department of Health said 444 COVID-19 patients were currently hospitalized. That’s 213 more than exactly one month ago. 

“Yesterday, the number was double we had two weeks ago and five times what we had a month ago,” said Dr. Arlen Jarrett with Steward Healthcare.

All of the administrators and doctors in Monday’s briefing agreed that Herbert’s executive order will make a difference, especially when it comes to taking precautions at home. 

“Almost 60% of the cases in Utah, new cases, are actually traced back to exposure in the home,” said Jarrett. 

Are two weeks really enough to make an impact? Doctors believe so, if Utahns do their part. 

“I think it will actually really change the course here in Utah and if others in other states would take similar steps, we could actually control this pandemic much more quickly,” said Dr. Michael Baumann, chief medical officer for MountainStar Healthcare.


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What is COVID-19? Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy

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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.

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