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ICUs beyond capacity because of rising pediatric COVID cases

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Posted at 2:14 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 16:14:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors from Intermountain Healthcare (Intermountain) are imploring Utahns to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because ICU units in hospitals around the state are over capacity, causing them to turn away patients with life-threatening health issues.

Health professionals have conversations multiple times a day about where to send patients because of ICU capacity deficits, according to Dr. Todd Vento, an Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Diseases Physician.

They're also seeing much younger patients than this time last year.

He explained that the Delta variant is also much easier to transmit because of its higher viral load, meaning children are now much more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

"What we've also seen is in our facilities is a lowering of the overall age of the ICU cases in particular . . . so that the numbers are about 20 years less in age when compared to this time last year," he explained.

Intermountain also stresses the need to have a mask barrier to prevent the Delta variant from spreading.

"It's all about numbers. If you have a million more cases for example, then you are going to have a proportionate increase in the number or percentage of severe cases and that's really what we're dealing with in regards to the pediatric population," added Dr. Vento.

Intermountain reported that they were 360% higher in their cases after Labor Day this year than last year, and last year the number of cases went all the way up to 5,000.

To underscore the importance of wearing a mask, they reported that last year had record low numbers of respiratory virus infections and influenza, as transmission of these illnesses was reduced.

Further, they found that people who were infected with COVID-19 but did not receive a vaccine were over twice as likely to become re-infected as those who were vaccinated.

They reported that this year, the virus is much more aggressive in terms of how much virus a person receives--the "load" after being infected.

So the bottom line? Get a vaccine to return to normal, or as normal as things can be post-COVID-19.