Intensive Care Unit Beds In Utah Are 88% Full
MURRAY, Utah – Intensive care unit bed utilization across all Utah hospitals is currently at 88%, according to the state health department’s Monday report, while ICU beds are 92% occupied at the 16 Utah hospitals best equipped to care for COVID-19 patients.
“When 85% capacity is reached, Utah will be functionally out of staffed ICU beds, indicating an overwhelmed hospital system,” the state’s coronavirus website states.
Out of the 545 Utahns hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, nearly 200 are receiving treatment in the ICU, state health officials reported.
“We have good care and we have a very low case-fatality rate, but those things change when we can’t take care of patients in numbers that we can handle,” said Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease physician with Intermountain Healthcare.
Vento said Utah hospitals are doing everything they can to prevent crisis care standards.
“If we get to that step that means we’ve failed,” Vento said. “We’ve failed as a community. We’ve failed in all ways because we didn’t prevent the transmission in our communities and it came to our hospitals.”
The governor is in charge of authorizing crisis care guidelines, which state: “ICU/ventilator care needs to be increasingly focused on those that are more likely to benefit from it, to meet the goal of ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.’”
Utah Hospital Association president Greg Bell said so far, hospitals have risen to the challenge. “If we continue to get these numbers then we’re just going to have to start making some hard decisions,” Bell said.
There is worry about the possibility of a surge in patients since hospitalizations lag a few weeks behind case counts. Bell said it’s yet to be seen what the result will be of 3,500 to 4,000 daily cases.
“Because what we’re seeing now was based on 1,500 to 2,200 cases a day,” Bell said.
“Bottom line is we still have a lot of COVID being transmitted in the communities,” Vento said.
Vento said Utahns can help protect the hospital system by not gathering over Thanksgiving.
“This is the time to really listen to public health experts and say, ‘We can prevent a terrible December and January by not doing the things that we would normally do,’” Vento said.
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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 is 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.
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