SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, Intermountain Healthcare officials say it is critical for residents to take action to stop the spread.
Intermountain says they currently have more patients in the hospital with the coronavirus that ever before, and that's causing a problem for hospital staff.
“This is getting to be a very critical point for us in this current surge,’ says Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician.
Right now, Stenehjem says there are 46 COVID-19 patients at Intermountain Medical Center and 31 patients at St. George Dixie Regional Hospital.
"This is getting to a point where we’re going to be opening up overflow ICU’s and we may not have beds to take care of these patients; but our staff is getting incredibly tired, and short,” says Stenehjem.
While the transmission rate is decreasing in the 15-24 age group, the rates are increasing in the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups.
“What we can say is that this is an ongoing community-based transmission of the virus leading to pretty severe illness in a lot of people,” says Stenehjem.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Herbert released a color-coded restriction scale for a transmission index, ranking counties in a high, moderate or low risk level.
This means masks are mandated and casual gatherings are limited to less than ten people in the high risk level; 25 or less people in the moderate risk group and 50 or less in the low risk level.
Stenehjem says these new restrictions can help alleviate hospitals and stop the spread of the virus.
“Only if people follow them, it’s as simple as that. If people follow these [guidelines], absolutely there’s no doubt that we’d see a positive impact on our community. We’d see counts come down, we’d see hospitalizations stabilize and we’d be in a much better spot, but people have to follow them."
Stenehjem says that each county's risk level will be reevaluated every seven days. He says now is the time to act to stop the spread, which means following the guidelines, wearing masks and doing whatever you can to help the community.