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Intermountain doctors urge Utahns to get vaccinated as ICU occupancy nears 100%

FILE (Courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare)

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors with Intermountain Healthcare urged Utahns to get vaccinated as they continue to see a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Intermountain leaders said it’s been a trend for weeks — more cases and hospitalizations because of the delta variant, ICUs are overcapacity and they’re losing health care workers who are overworked and tired.

More than 95% of Utah’s ICU beds were occupied as of Friday morning, and Intermountain officials said ICUs and acute care units at their hospitals have regularly exceeded 100% capacity over the last several weeks.

Even if there is a ventilator or a bed available, Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare, said that bed is worthless because there aren’t nurses and practitioners who can care for that sick patient.

The delta variant is much more aggressive than earlier coronavirus strains, and they’ve seen healthy people put on ventilators.

They added the data is showing the vaccine can really help lessen the severity of the illness.

Vento also addressed claims by some who have questioned if Utah hospitals are overwhelmed.

“If you’re a nurse in the ICU right now for example and you’ve taken care of COVID patients who are really sick in the ICU on ventilators for multiple days in a row, and you come home and hear folks say, ‘Oh, that’s not true, they have more capacity, they’re not overwhelmed’ — that’s being part of the problem,” he said. “That’s not being part of the solution.”

If Utah’s vaccination rates don’t increase, Vento warned the Beehive State could end up like Idaho, which has activated crisis standards of care because of the massive number of COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized.

“The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” Idaho Department of Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in statement.

Idaho rations health care statewide as COVID surge drags on

Our best defense is to continue practicing social distancing, limit gatherings and wear masks indoors, even if you’re vaccinated.

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