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Saturday marked another disastrous day for Utah on the COVID-19 front as the occupancy rate in the state’s intensive care units hit an all-time high, as the number of cases rose again up – with a little caveat.
The Utah Department of Health reported on Saturday that the total number of occupied ICU beds was 95.9% or (514 of 536 beds available).
On top of that, the ICUs of the main referral centers, which are the hospitals where most COVID-19 patients are located, are at 101.7% or 468 patients for 460 beds.
Intensive care units “are overflowing,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Medical Center, but that’s no surprise.
It was a “mathematical inevitability,” Webb said.
Those numbers were projected six weeks ago, he said, “due to the spike in cases for a few consecutive weeks after Halloween”, mostly driven by young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, especially during large gatherings in places like Utah County.
There is a 14- to 21-day lag between the increase in the number of cases and when hospitalizations increase, Webb said, and another delay before patients are transferred to intensive care units.
And because patients stay in these intensive care units a lot longer than in a medical ward, he said, “it creates a situation where we just fill the bucket and never empty the bucket.
When Gov. Gary Herbert instituted new restrictions in mid-November, the Intermountain doctor said: “We saw a modest reduction in cases, which was very important for the health care system.
The numbers rose again after Thanksgiving “but not to the degree we feared,” Webb said. “The number of cases projected through January will be similar to where we are now with a gradual decline – if the community can shift transmission and do things to bend the curve. ”
Until then, state health workers “are finding creative ways to care for patients,” he said, turning other services into ICU-level care, adding staff and locations.
The bottom line is that the state’s health care system is “doing all it can” to absorb the increased patient load, Webb said, “and to maintain the quality of care the Utahns deserve.” .
As for Saturday’s cases, UDOH reported an increase of 3,692 positive cases from Friday, but that includes around 1,100 cases that were missed because the department’s server was down Thursday and early Friday. .
The seven-day moving average of positive tests is 2,706 per day; the average positive lab test is 25.8 percent.
The number of Utahn currently hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped slightly to 544, 24 fewer than on Friday, UDOH reported. The total number of hospitalizations for the virus is 9,351.
The department reported 13 other deaths, including:
• A man from Davis County between the ages of 65 and 84.
• A man from Utah County between the ages of 65 and 84.
• Three women from Utah County: two between 65 and 84 and one over 85.
• Two residents of Salt Lake County, a male between 45 and 64 and a female between 65 and 84.
• Two men from Washington County, one between 65 and 84 and the other over 85.
• Two men from Uintah County, one between 45 and 64 and the other over 85.
• A man from Weber County between the ages of 65 and 84.
• A woman from Garfield County between the ages of 45 and 64.