ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – On Thursday, 128 new COVID-19 infections were reported in Southern Utah, according to the Utah Department of Health. That is the highest case count officials have seen in one day, in the last five months.
“We have been struggling with hospital capacity for several weeks now, and the challenge is getting harder and harder each day,” says Dr. William Beninati, the Telehealth Services Director for Intermountain Healthcare.
There are currently no available ICU beds in any of Intermountain Healthcare’s major hospitals, according to Dr. Beninati.
“Something I want to explain about this, some dashboards may look like we have physical beds that are unoccupied, but those beds cannot function as an intensive care bed without nursing staff,” he says.
Dr. Beninati says the number of doctors and nurses is extremely low.
“This pandemic has gone on for a long time, I think that our front line staff are exhausted and we’ve seen people leave the profession after they’ve done their part and it’s been difficult to replace them,” he says.
He says hospitals can’t meet the community need with the latest spike in cases like they did at the beginning of the pandemic.
“What’s different now is that we no longer have the staff across disciplines to meet the community need, and this is a dangerous situation for the community,” he says.
He says the majority of patients being admitted into the ICU are unvaccinated individuals and encourages everyone to get both doses.
Dr. Beninati adds that he encourages people who feel sick to still go to the hospital if needed, this is just to prevent a greater demand on the system. He also says to wear your mask in areas of high transmission, especially with the latest spikes in Southern Utah.