ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) says it’s time to get a flu shot, become creative with mask-wearing and social distancing, and work to protect the most vulnerable.
The 5-county district saw a record of 90 new coronavirus cases and 30 locals hospitalized on Thursday. Friday broke the record once again, with 33 hospitalizations — higher than Dixie Regional Medical Center’s capacity for ICU beds at 32.
“It’s been an interesting test of people’s resilience and creativity,” SWUPHD public information officer David Heaton said. “Maybe don’t travel as much or meet in larger groups. Try virtual, brief, or drop-by visits. There’s all kinds of things we can do if we get creative.”
SWUPHD reported 47 new cases for a total of 898 active cases and a total of 45 deaths Friday:
- Kane County: 1 new case, 1 death, 9 active cases.
- Beaver County: 3 new cases, 0 deaths, 23 active cases.
- Washington County: 41 new cases, 38 deaths, 739 active cases
- Iron County: 2 new cases, 3 deaths, 99 active cases
- Garfield County: 0 new cases, 3 deaths, 28 active cases.
The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions continue to be the majority of the region’s hospitalizations, and many new cases are coming from staff and residents of long-term care facilities in Washington County. Seasons Healthcare and Rehabilitation and Spring Gardens of St. George both have 5 or more active cases.
Heaton said COVID-fatigue, politics, and misinformation are all factors he believes are contributing to the spike, which is mainly affecting Washington and Garfield counties; but, he said he believes most residents overall have a “healthy balance of being wary of the virus while being considerate of others without panicking.”
“We need to get serious again about the basic precautions of hand washing, mask wearing, staying home when sick, and social distancing,” Heaton said. “Let’s see if we can reverse this surge that we’re experiencing.”
Under Gov. Gary Herbert’s new public health order, face coverings will be mandatory in Washington, Iron, and Garfield Counties and social gatherings will be limited for at least the next two weeks.
Heaton asks residents to again recognize that these measures are temporary.
“This isn’t going to last forever,” Heaton said. “This pandemic will end.”