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Utah doctors concerned about extremely strained hospitals, possible COVID-19 surge

Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 19:08:44-05

SALT LAKE CITY — This week marks the second Thanksgiving holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s interesting,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician. “We are actually in a near mirror image of where we were going into Thanksgiving last year.”

Intermountain Healthcare doctors say hospitalizations either meet or exceed the peak experienced in early December 2020.

“We are bursting at the seams. We have never had more COVID patients than we do now,” said Dr. Webb.

Unlike 2020, other respiratory viruses are putting people in the hospital including RSV, croup and influenza.

Read: Utah reports 1,804 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday; 13 more deaths

“This is creating a significant strain on our system. We also hear from our colleagues at Primary Children’s and all across the state are having to make really tough decisions,” said University of Utah Chief Medical Operations Officer Dr. Russell Vinik.

Utah remains among the the top ten state for highest COVID-19 rates in the country. Much like last year, physicians expect to see a large post-Thanksgiving surge.

The biggest game changer this year is the widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“A year ago we were telling people to you should re-think getting together with friends and family for Thanksgiving. This year, vaccines are very effective and we are telling people you can safely gather if you’ve been vaccinated,” said Dr. Vinik.

Doctors suggest people who haven’t received a shot should sit this Thanksgiving out.