SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s hospitals have reached capacity and are now taking measures to adjust to the influx of COVID-19 cases.

Utah has reached the highest number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations so far. 3,919 cases in one day. Hospitalized Utahns climbed to 468 people; the rolling average is 23.2%. We are nearing 1 in 4 Utahns who are being tested showing up positive with the virus.

In the Governor’s briefing Thursday, Greg Bell, CEO of the Utah Hospital Association, explained how Utah’s hospitals had reached capacity.

He said that the mandatory mask mandate is the absolute foundation of any public health address of the problem; he also mentioned more testing and a social pause sticking to contacts in our households. Avoiding other social contacts as far as possible.

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

Bell explained that hospitals operate under three standards. The first being normal care, where anyone can walk in and get care for whatever. The next is contingency care. The third is crisis care. Utah hospitals have been in contingency care for a few weeks now. “We have expanded every possible resource, we have enlisted every nurse doctor, and technician who is expert in treating this.”

He explained they have created temporary ICU beds and opened beds in the orthopedic hospital. He said they are load leveling, transferring among hospitals, and load-leveling among hospital systems as of last week.

They are doing it by watching the hospital capacities daily and then diverting the ambulances as needed. Bell said, “That is not an ordinary measure and is an extreme contingency measure” It is an attempt to load level before they overspill every hospital’s capacity.

The area hospitals are adding every possible team they can.

The hospitals are reporting how they are doing, including if they have nurses not showing up or other personnel out ill. This can leave hospitals without skilled crews. It’s not uncommon

Most chilling Bell said, “ICU’s most typically operate on an 85% capacity, that’s full, for them because just changing patients, requirements from PPE to doctors, the churn is hard to get above 85%. That now, some hospitals are effectively at 100%.”

“We still have some capacity, we’re still treating all comers, but if we keep seeing 90 to 100 patients a day, then we just can’t handle that in the ICU.”

He added after, ” If you did get denied an ICU bed would you get care? Absolutely, we still have lots of room in our general wards, our meds surge, and even in our acute care,”

“But in our intensive care units we are right on that line, where we are effectively full.”

The governor said more people are getting sick and more are going to the hospitals, he mentioned how medical personnel is putting their life on the line.

The governor said, “We are really committed to ramping up testing particularly for our college students, age group 15-24 which as an age group category has the highest infection and transmission rates.” The Governor said by next week they will have sent 100,000 rapid antigen tests to universities, colleges, and trade schools.”

“We are going to ramp up significantly our abilities to test certain categories of our population.”

The Governor said they hope in the next couple of weeks to be able to test up to 250,000 people a week. The goal is to find the people who are asymptomatic and find them and isolate them before they infect other people.

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