SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Health professionals gave the community their thoughts on Gov. Herbert’s emergency declaration Monday.

They held a zoom meeting to thank Gov. Herbert for the initiative, share some critiques and let reporters ask questions about the ongoing COVID-19 case spike.

ABC4 was interested in learning about the data on the Utah COVID-19 Dashboard; more specifically how to interpret it correctly without making false claims. It’s a lot to digest so we asked health professionals to dispel some misleading claims.

For example, Intermountain Healthcare said its hospital system is using more than 90 percent of its ICU beds after they brought in more than 200 nurses to help and 30 more from New York.

“The disconnect is that, that number is the entire number of ICU beds across the state,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher.

Briesacher is the Senior VP of Clinical Integration at Intermountain Healthcare.

The percentage also does not take into account staff beds.

“Having the bed is one thing, but our workforce has been affected by this just as the community has,” said Briesacher.

The community may also notice the Utah COVID-19 Dashboard does not explain what is driving the hospitalizations. It’s been said social gatherings are the main contributor. Also being close quarters with your family increases the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. This is because people tend to let their guard down around loved ones.

“Almost 60 percent of the cases in Utah, new cases, are traced back to exposure in the home,” said Dr. Arlen Jarrett

Jarrett leads the way at Steward Healthcare as the Chief Medical Officer. He was a part of several health care professionals on a Zoom call Monday afternoon. He said researchers still aren’t exactly sure why the disease feasts on certain individuals compared to others. He added older age and underlying health conditions always bring higher risk. 

COVID-19 deaths in Utah are now 9th lowest in the US, but a better measure of the gravity of COVID-19 is those suffering long term effects.

“There’s no way to predict who is going to be really really sick, who is going to have chronic life-changing illness as a result of the virus,” said Briesacher.

Briesacher said healthcare professionals are still learning a lot and it could take decades to understand the broader impact of COVID-19, but they know people with the illness could have side effects for life. 

“We certainly plea with everyone to take the steps they should take so that no one in their family gets this virus,” said Briesacher.

The Utah COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily with new information. Dr. Jarrett said soon there will be more data points available.

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