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Younger people being hospitalized with COVID more often in Utah

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Posted at 11:57 AM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 21:26:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials at Intermountain Healthcare say younger people are being hospitalized more often with COVID-19 in their hospitals.

"We're trending to a younger population when you look at our median age. Kind of over the past year, our median age has come down about ten years over the past 8 to 9 months," said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Diseases Physician.

Dr. Stenehjem said the reason behind younger people being hospitalized comes down to the younger population being less vaccinated.

READ: Salt Lake City mayor orders masks be worn in schools for grades K-12

"Most likely, that's because as the vaccines rolled out in the elderly population we got a lot of great uptake, you know, we are at over 80%-85% fully vaccinated in our older population. That decreased hospitalizations in our older population. While our younger population remains less vaccinated."

During a virtual meeting with reporters Friday Dr. Stenehjem said it's hospital ICU beds remain at or over capacity.

"In our COVID hub hospitals, our big centers that we have here in Utah - we are at 101.2% ICU capacity and so in our big facilities we are totally full, over 100% capacity," Dr. Stenehjem said. "When you look at all of our ICU beds across the organization we are at 99% capacity."

READ: 9 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,116 new cases reported Friday

Dr. Stenehjem said he dosen't expect things to get better anytime soon.

"We expect that as cases continue to rise, which they are continuing to rise across the state of Utah that we'll then continue to see higher hospitalizations and then eventually that's going to lead to higher amounts of death across our state."

Dr. Stenehjem also expressed his fears over the highly contagious Delta variant spreading in schools this fall.

"What I fear will happen is we're going to see school based transmission that may be pretty dense meaning that there's a lot of transmission in unmasked and unprotected children and that's going to lead to a rise in cases in children but then a spillover in parents and grandparents in those children that then go home and need to be cared for," Dr. Stenehjem said. "I think we'll start seeing family based transmission...timeline on that, typically we will see that transmission starting 7-14 days after school gets in session."