Southwest Utah sees highest COVID-19 hospitalizations, 1-day spike

Coronavirus Updates

UPDATE: Friday’s COVID-19 numbers show a bigger 1-day spike in cases than Thursday and a new high in hospitalizations in Southwest Utah, according to officials. 61% of cases are considered recovered.

  • 386 total confirmed cases, including:
  • 26 new cases
  • 237 total recovered (19 new)
  • 17 currently hospitalized (3 new)
  • 4 deaths (3-26-20, 4-23-20, 5-3-20, 5-18-20)
  • 11,184 tests performed (as of last report received, may not be current)
  • Washington County: 324 (20 new)
  • Iron County: 56 (6 new)
  • Kane County: 3
  • Beaver County: 0
  • Garfield County: 3

SOUTHWEST UTAH (ABC4 News) — A week after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Department of Health warned residents of Southwest Utah could see a surge in COVID-19 cases after a contagious first few weeks of May, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is reporting its largest ever 1-day spike of COVID-19 cases and its highest total hospitalizations since the outbreak began.

At the beginning of May, Southwest Utah reported a little more than 100 confirmed cases. Thursday’s updated numbers show the area has more than tripled its total, confirming 360 total coronavirus cases, including:

  • 25 new cases
  • 218 recovered (9 new)
  • 14 currently hospitalized (6 new)
  • 4 deaths (3-26-20, 4-23-20, 5-3-20, 5-18-20)
  • 11,184 tests performed (as of last report received, may not be current)
  • Washington County: 304 (21 new)
  • Iron County: 50 (4 new)
  • Kane County: 3
  • Beaver County: 0
  • Garfield County: 3
  • Total Utah Cases: 8,921 (106 deaths)

Dr. Patrick Carroll, medical director at Dixie Regional Medical Center, announced in a press conference Thursday that he believes Southwest Utah is experiencing a “surge event,” adding that in the last few days the number of hospitalizations at the facility have doubled. Carroll considers Washington County a “vulnerable” population given its high population of residents 65 years and older.

“It’s a bit sobering frankly,” Dr. Carroll said. “We still have capacity and the ability to take care of patients. We’ve not had to move to any short-term contingency plan or open up additional bedspaces but it’s something we’re prepared to do.” 

Carroll said as of Thursday, more than 60% of the beds at DRMC are filled, although that number includes non-COVID-19 patients. Prior to this week, that percentage has remained in the 10% range. 

“The curve is not flat. The curve is in an exponential growth phase right now in Washington County and in Southwest Utah.” Carroll added.

RELATED: Potential COVID-19 surge in Southwest Utah: What to know

Officials with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) told ABC4 News the 5-county-district is well prepared in the event of a surge, reiterating that their goal is not to stop the spread of the virus, but to protect the most vulnerable populations.

“Going back in the phase back up to orange is always on the able if that were essential,” SWUPHD spokesperson David Heaton told ABC4 News in an interview last week. “Right now, we think things will be able to be managed as far as handling any moderate surge in cases.”

SWUPHD confirmed Thursday that most of the area’s hospitalized cases are high-risk individuals: over the age of 60 or with underlying health problems.

“We encourage high-risk individuals to continue following the stricter RED guidelines, and for those in close contact with them to take precautions as well. If you or someone you care about are high-risk, please read and share this information,” officials stated.

SWUPHD officials added that the majority of cases can be traced to a known positive contact, whether a family member or coworker and want to remind the public that three of the five counties under their jurisdiction — Kane, Beaver, and Garfield — currently have no active cases.

Dr. Carroll added that majority of patients at DRMC contracted the virus from a known contact or an individual in the community.

“These are not people coming from outside Washington County,” Carroll added.

Under Utah’s “yellow” low-risk guidelines and directives, health officials stress that social distancing remains critically important.

According to the SWUPHD website, the following details the guidelines for high-risk individuals who are recommended to continue following stricter “red” guidelines:

“High-risk individual” includes those over 65, those living at senior living facilities, and those of all ages with underlying medical conditions, including chronic lung disease, asthma, heart conditions, severe obesity, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or otherwise immunocompromised (undergoing cancer treatment, smoker, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications).

“For those living with a high-risk individual, household members should conduct themselves as if they are a significant risk to the high-risk individual.”

  • Wash hands before interacting with the person, including before feeding or caring for the person
  • If possible, provide a protected space for high-risk household members, and ensure all utensils and surfaces are cleaned regularly
  • High-risk populations should take extra precaution to avoid close contact with multiple people, including having the same caretakers whenever possible
  • Those who are, or work with, vulnerable populations should undergo daily screening/symptom monitoring and should be tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms
  • Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for high-risk household member.
  • Additional CDC guidance for high-risk populations can be found here.”
Households with Sick Family Members
  • Give sick members their own room if possible and keep the door closed
  • Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for high-risk household members
  • Have only one family member care for them
Actions by High-Risk Individuals
  • Face coverings worn in settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • For any travel, use appropriate precautions; avoid high-risk areas
  • Telework if possible, if not, maintain 6-foot distance
  • When visiting friends or family, wear face coverings when within a 6-foot distance
  • Limit physical interactions with other high-risk individuals, except for members of your household or residence
  • Social interactions in groups of 20 or fewer people outside your household or residence
  • Limit visits to hospitals, nursing homes, or other residential care facilities   
Interactions with High-Risk Individuals
  • Individuals not experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 take extra precautions and follow strict hygiene standards when interacting with high-risk groups
  • Do not interact with symptomatic individuals
  • Limit visits to hospitals
  • No visits to nursing homes and other residential care facilities 
  • Targeted testing for those working with high-risk individuals

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