COVID-19 record numbers: how did we get here?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Almost 100,000 Utahns have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The Utah Department of Health and some of Utah doctors say what the healthcare system and public response has been like.

“One of the big things we did really well is we saw this pandemic happening in other parts of the country. We did a lot of planning,” said Lindsay Liether, the Medical Director of Intermountain Medical Center’s Respiratory Intensive Care Unit.

“The care we deliver now is phenomenally better than we did in March,” said Dr. Mark Ott, the Medical Director of Intermountain Medical Center.

“We had time to secure enough protective equipment, we actually built protective equipment we couldn’t obtain on the market,” said Dr. Thomas L. Miller, the Chief Medical Officer at the University of Utah Health.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors at the U and Intermountain Healthcare say they feel Utah and its healthcare system’s response to the virus has been one that’s worked well.

“We’ve really been able to collaborate across the country with lots of big trials and institutions to try to bring these therapies to our patients here in Utah,” Liether said.

Working alongside hospitals are public health officials at the Utah Department of Health who say they have a productive and collaborative relationship.

“Having those collaborations in place and that environment where everybody is in it to help one another has been certainly helpful to us throughout this response,” said spokesperson Tom Hudachko.

And with a recent surge in cases, public health officials call on Utahns to re-heighten their efforts.

“What people really need to take to heart is that should they get sick,” Hudachko said, “there’s a chance they may need to utilize care at one of our hospitals.”

“What we need to do now is just hang in there and continue the importance of masking,” said Miller.

“Everything we can do in terms of mask-wearing and social distancing, not going out when sick, are all really, really critical and we need the communities partnership and support,” Liether said.

At UDOH, Hudachko said they’ve had a lot of successes in their COVID-19 response efforts including data dissemination and data gathering.

Hudachko says looking back, public health officials wished they had better communication at the start of the pandemic.

“We definitely could have done a better job early on, communicating with and focusing on ethnically diverse communities,” Hudachko said.

He continues to say data suggested much higher infection rates in the Hispanic, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities. Since then, the health department has worked to create more COVID-19 awareness.

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