SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Out of Utah’s 38,409 total COVID-19 case count on Monday, Utahns ages 15-24 have the state’s highest case rate at 1,673.3, per 100,000 people, according to the state health department.
“What we suspect is those people are getting out and about more, and less socially distant than some of us who are a little bit older,” explained Dr. Russell Vinik, Chief Medical Operations Officer, University of Utah Health. “They’re putting themselves at more risk.”
Tom Hudachko, Spokesperson with the Utah Department of Health, said case counts are leveling, but overall intensive care unit hospitalizations have not declined.
“There have been days where we’ve had some higher case counts, and those event offset by days where we’ve had lower case counts,” he told ABC4 News. “We’ve bounced around anywhere from about, you know, 58% of all ICU beds being utilized to 70% of ICU beds being utilized, and that fluctuates by several percentage points on any given day.”
“When I look at from day to day, there seems to be a significant variation, as many as 10 ICU beds, plus or minus that seven day average,” said Vinik.
ABC4 News looked at the number of hospitalized patients over the last seven days and found the state averaged slightly above 205 hospitalizations per day. It’s the highest one-week period since the beginning of the pandemic.
“It’s a huge concern. When we look at especially ICU utilization, we have very few beds left in the state. Even at the University of Utah, we had to open a surge ICU unit. That means that we’re asking staff who normally don’t work a certain number of shifts a week to pick up extra shifts. Long term that’s not good. Nobody wants to be hospitalized and have a doctor or a nurse who is physically and mentally exhausted caring for them. So it is a significant concern, even though we have the beds and we have the staff. We are surging in using search staffing, which is not ideal for long periods of time,” Vinik explained.
“What’s the solution?” asked ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.
“Well, the solution is what you’ve heard about over and over which is wearing face masks, and keeping physical distance in trying our best to reduce the spread of this disease,” Vinik replied.