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Intermountain Healthcare Seeing COVID-19 Surge Similar to Last Fall

MURRAY, Utah – New cases of COVID-19 are surging again in Utah at a pace not seen since last fall.

Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare say the rise continues to be driven by the delta variant among people 40 and younger who are not vaccinated. It’s the kind of hospital surge healthcare workers saw last year, but now the patients are younger.

“We are in a very similar place as we were last summer,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare.

The virus is spreading rapidly and intensive care units at Utah’s hospitals are either full or filling quickly with Covid-only patients.

“Which is a big change from what we’ve had over the last few months, where we’ve been able to care for patients with many different types of conditions,” Webb said.

That level of hospitalization reflects the high level of Covid transmission during the past few weeks, according to Webb.

“We expect that the hospitalizations that we’re seeing now will unfortunately just continue to increase,” Webb said.

He said social restrictions like masking, social distancing and limiting gatherings may be necessary again to truly slow the transmission of the virus unless vaccinations pick up.

Last fall and winter, it was the the elderly and those at high risk who ended up at the hospital.

“(That population) has really been replaced by a population that is largely unvaccinated, and younger,” Webb said. “We’re seeing patients in their 30s and 40s.”

He said it’s already taking a toll on healthcare workers.

“I just talked with an ICU physician yesterday who was expressing exhaustion,” said the physician.

Frontline caregivers who have beared the brunt of the pandemic are struggling with the reality that the hospital will be full again.

“The pandemic has taken it’s toll emotionally and psychologically on all of us,” Webb said.

Dr. Webb said there’s a feeling among the caregivers that the community has given up on the precautions that made a difference six months ago. They’re urging everyone to get vaccinated to slow this surge.

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