MURRAY, Utah — As more people test positive for coronavirus and public events and places are increasingly affected, health care officials are reminding Utahns to not show up in-person if they believe they may have the virus.
Intermountain Healthcare says its hospitals and other facilities are seeing a "surge" in people coming in when they are not sick, and officials say it is affecting doctors and other health professionals from treating those who need it.
“Because of these high volumes of healthy people coming to our facilities, it is affecting our caregivers' ability to provide care for those truly in need,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease specialist at Intermountain Healthcare. “We understand why some people are concerned, but we are asking the public to not go to hospitals and clinics for COVID-19 testing if symptoms aren't present, such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath.”
Intermountain asks that people instead use the "Intermountain Connect Care" app or call "Intermountain Health Answers" at 844-501-6600. Through these resources, patients will be screened and instructed on whether they need treatment.
Dr. Stenehjem stressed the importance of taking other measures, like staying home if you are sick and keeping sick family members separated.
He said everyone, including healthy and younger adults, needs to practice hand hygiene and social distancing. He recommended staying away from social gatherings and events.
Dr. Stenehjem explained that even a healthy person can contract COVID-19 without knowing, and may show very mild symptoms. He said that person can transmit COVID-19 to a family member who is at risk for serious sickness, such as a grandparent or parent with health issues.
He indicated that they are most concerned for the elderly population, and those with compromised immune systems.
While there is no community transmission of COVID-19 in Utah at this time, and he said the risk is low, Dr. Stenehjem said they anticipate that could change within days or weeks.
The social distancing could go on for two to three months, Dr. Stenehjem said. He stressed that it's a small price to pay, to protect the community and keep people safe.
The State of Utah has also set up a coronavirus task force, which has a website with more information at coronavirus.utah.gov. There is also a Utah Coronavirus Information Line that can be reached by phone at 1-800-456-7707.