Intensive care units remain nearly full in Utah after a rough weekend that had them overcapacity.
The state Department of Health reported 89.6% of all ICUs beds were in use, compared to 96.6% Sunday. ICU beds for key referral centers, which take care of the majority of coronavirus patients, are 93.5% occupied as of Monday, compared to 101.7% the day before.
Health workers are cautioning Utahns about the dangers of full ICUs, which remain dangerously close to being understaffed.
“This ICU surge was predicted,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, at a news conference Monday. “First comes cases, then comes hospitalizations, then comes ICU admissions.”
Hospitals are working to address ICU needs by opening new beds and new units, Stenehjem said, but patients admitted to ICUs tend to stay for a longer period of time than people generally admitted for other conditions.
“It comes to a situation where we’re adding more and more people to ICUs at a quick pace and they’re not being discharged from the ICU at an equal pace,” he said.
The state Department of Health reported seven new deaths Monday, including:
One male from Iron County, between the ages of 45-64
One female from Salt Lake County, between the ages of 65-84
One male from Tooele County, older than 85
One male fro mUtah County, between the ages of 65-84
One male from Wasatch County, between the ages of 45-64
Two female from Washington County, one between 45-64 and the other between 65-84
The month of December has seen only one day with zero COVID-19-related deaths in Utah.
The number of new cases reported Monday is 1,968, the first time cases fell below the 2,000 mark in December.
A total of 1,580,843 Utahns have been tested for the coronavirus, including 5,621 news tests Monday, which is also a low for the month.
“We cannot tolerate continued surges of cases and then subsequent hospitalizations,” Stenehjem said. “We need to make sure we control this from a public health standpoint until that vaccine is widely available in the months to come.”
The physician praised Utah residents for largely heeding distancing guidelines over Thanksgiving. Health providers expected a surge in cases after the holiday, but saw a smaller increase than anticipated.
Stenehjem urged the community to follow similar precautions during holidays now and ahead, including Christmas and Hanukkah.
“Do not gather outside of your home to enjoy those holidays,” he said.
Utah coronavirus cases rise 1,968 as hospital ICUs are slammed /p>