As new cases of COVID and subsequent hospitalizations continue to rise in Utah, the impact on caregivers and hospitals is becoming significant and concerning – as volumes at Intermountain Healthcare hospital ICUs throughout the state have exceeded 100% capacity multiple times in the past several days.
In a press conference on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, Dr. Todd Vento, an infectious disease specialist at Intermountain Healthcare said that 89.5% of the COVID cases presenting at IMC facilities are with individuals who have not had the COVID vaccine. According to Vento, “too many cases are requiring a higher level of care.” Vento said the potent Delta variant of the virus being contracted now is highly contagious and is more difficult to treat due to the severity of cases and the unavailability of an anti-inflammatory medicine in short supply.
Many hospitals are short-staffed due to the ongoing pandemic and toll that it’s had on caregivers – and don’t have the ability to add dedicated COVID flex units, as they did last year.
On Monday, the Utah Department of Health reported 2,244 new COVID cases, up 744 from last week. UDOH also reported 367 people were hospitalized with the virus – with 163 being treated in intensive care units.
Adding to the concern and the stress for hospitals and caregivers, there is a national shortage of Tocilizumab, a medication that has proven to be effective in treating patients with severe COVID.
Vento said that getting the vaccine, “prevents severe COVID, hospitalizations and death.”
When questioned about other health measures, Vento said, “We still need masks and social distancing, because we have a much more aggressive virus now,” said Vento.
“Get the vaccine, get the full doses, then after two weeks, you won’t likely get COVID and need hospitalization,” said Vento.
Kayde Marshall, a critical care nurse at IMC said, “We are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. We are seeing more and more cases now. Many of our patients are unvaccinated and we are worried about what the future might bring.”
“It’s frustrating because it’s [current hospitalizations] avoidable,” Marshall added.