ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — Public health officials in southwestern Utah are asking residents to push politics aside and come together to reverse the area’s biggest and most dangerous surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations heading into cold and flu season.
Friday broke the record for a single-day high with 134 new COVID-19 cases, and Monday was not far behind with 119 new cases, the second-highest case count for one day. Currently, 32 locals are hospitalized with the virus.
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is reporting four deaths since Sunday for a total of 53 deaths:
- 2 reported Sunday: a hospitalized female from Washington County aged 65-84 and a hospitalized female from Washington County older than 85.
- 2 reported Monday: A Garfield County male between the ages of 65-84 and a Washington County female between the ages of 45-64.
“We’ll just have to see what the future holds as far as these case numbers,” SWUPHD public information officer David Heaton told ABC4 News. “We thought we might have reached our peak in the summer, but we’re definitely at a larger peak at this time. We’re right in the middle of it, it seems.”
Heaton said the public health department is not trying to instill fear but provide the facts and ask residents to recognize the urgency of bringing case counts down. Nearly 69% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied — a concern that an influx of both COVID-19 and flu hospitalizations at the same time will greatly overwhelm the healthcare system.
This comes as officials at Dixie Regional Medical Center, which was recently forced to open a surge ICU, told reporters last week that locals need to “respect what the disease has done and can do in the community.”
“What we’re seeing in the hospitals is your friends, family members, and neighbors in your own community,” medical director Dr. Patrick Carroll said. “There’s no need to be afraid of COVID, but there is a need to respect COVID.”