SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s COVID crisis reaches new heights this week with deaths reaching double digits two days in a row.
By Thursday, 598 people have died from COVID-19 in Utah with 20 of them in two days.
“He’s the one that basically raised me. Taught me everything,” said Cesar Hernandez, speaking of his father Julio.
Julio Hernandez’s name is on the growing list of COVID-19 victims in Utah. The West Valley father spent several days in the hospital. By early July, his lungs lost nearly all their function. He was just 56.
"My heart literally shattered to pieces. I couldn’t cry. I wanted to cry. I felt like I had lost everything,” said Hernandez.
Since then, the number of people dying has only climbed higher. Nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths happened in October. The CDC predicts deaths will climb 13 percent by Thanksgiving.
“We really need to break the cycle and transmission of this virus right now,” said Intermountain Health infectious disease physician Dr. Todd Vento.
Utah’s death rate remains small compared to other states with the CDC reporting the seven day average at 0.1%.
“We have a very low death rate. But that doesn’t paint any of the picture on the stress on the public health system,” Dr. Vento said.
The state reports record high hospitalizations have overwhelmed two major hospitals with staff struggling to provide services.
"It can happen to anybody. Young person to an older person. It’s a lot of deaths,” said Hernandez.