Hospital admissions multiply, caregivers fall sick amid omicron surge

Jan 4, 2022, 8:42 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 7:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — “Since Christmas Eve, we’ve seen about a 300% increase in admissions to our hospital for COVID-19,” Dr. Russell Vinik, the chief medical operations officer at University of Utah Hospital said.

Since then, he said, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has tripled, and the caregivers are getting sick too.

Doctors with University of Utah Health say the omicron surge is sweeping the country, and cases are climbing sharply in Utah.

“We’ve seen this variant is incredibly infectious, so much more infectious, at least two to three times more transmissible than what we’ve seen with the delta variant,” Vinik said.

Utah’s positive rate is also rising sharply: a much sharper rise in infection than they have seen with previous variants.

“It’s just a really dramatic increase in how quickly these cases have come up with the omicron variant,” Erin Clouse, strategic engagement manager at University of Utah Health said.

So, they expect hospitalizations to keep rising, as staffing at the hospital has been dramatically depleted by the virus.

“We have lost hundreds of staff in the last few days due to illness,” Vinik said.

So, University Of Utah Hospital is taking 53 beds out of service, and postponing elective, scheduled surgeries for the next couple of weeks.

“Right now, in Utah we’re one of those places that is in the beginning of a surge,” Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health said.

He warned that the coronavirus is transmitted through the fine particles that we breathe out, that remain suspended in the air.

“Just to give you an example,” he said. “If somebody had coughed in an elevator before you got in it, all it would take is for you to take your mask down for a second to get infected.”

So, any indoor area with unmasked people presents a risk, the doctor said.

With the infection rate in Utah right now:

“If you go into a space where there’s more than a dozen people, it’s almost certain that there’s going to be some COVID floating around in the air,” Swaminathan said.

They’re urging everyone to get vaccinated and boosted if they’re eligible, and wear masks indoors. The doctors are hopeful omicron will peak quickly as it has elsewhere in the world. But, until then, they advise people to be extremely cautious.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
17 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
2 months ago
flu shot tripledemic...
Matt Rascon

KSL+: The rise of respiratory viruses and COVID’s impact

It’s not even winter yet, and the CDC is warning that the country is experiencing a resurgence of respiratory viruses, which are taking a toll on hospitals and children.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
4 months ago
Alex Cabrero and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Sandy woman shares frustration of ongoing battle with COVID-19

As life starts to return to normal from the pandemic, for millions of Americans, it still causes a daily struggle. That's the case for one Sandy woman, who shared her story Tuesday.
4 months ago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Hospital admissions multiply, caregivers fall sick amid omicron surge