Utah COVID Cases Rise, University Hospital ICU at 95 Percent Capacity

The intensive care unit at the University of Utah Health hospital has reached 95 percent capacity, according to Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases at the university.

The hospital provides care for residents in Utah as well as "residents of five surrounding states in a referral area encompassing more than 10 percent of the continental U.S.," according to its LinkedIn profile.

Speaking at the state's weekly press conference on Thursday, Dr. Spivak said: "Our hospital is getting full. Our ICU is getting full. It was 95 percent full this morning."

"As a physician, as a mother and a concerned citizen, I plead with you, wear a mask at all times out of your home."

The chief executive officer at the University of Utah Health, Dr. Michael Good, said at a Tuesday briefing: "We began in early September seeing this dramatic increase in the number of new coronavirus cases reported each day.

"Hospital trends across the state, and here at University Hospital, [are] showing increasing hospitalization for coronavirus.

"The increase in the number of deaths is just now starting to turn up...unfortunately, the hospitalization, as measured by the number of people in the hospital, continues to increase.

"Fortunately, we've seen a little bit of a leveling off in those that are in the ICU. So, there still is this general trend upward, but with a suggestion of some leveling off in the ICU."

When questioned at the Thursday briefing about whether more restrictions will be implemented in the state, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told residents to "wait and see." Herbert is expected to meet with the state's COVID-19 Unified Command force and legislative leaders next week to discuss which restrictions are working and which are not.

Confirmed cases in Utah are approaching nearly 82,000, with 501 reported deaths, as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Average daily new cases in the states were on an upward trend in the latest two-week period from September 25 to October 8. The average count began rising sharply from early September, after declining from mid-July and flattening out from early August, according to data compiled by JHU.

Infections were reported to have spread from the state's younger population to the older residents, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

Across the state, 73 percent of all ICU hospital beds are occupied, compared to 54.5 percent of all non-ICU beds, according to the latest figures published on the Utah Department of Health website.

The department said: "Hospitals in Utah self-report the number of COVID-19 cases currently in their facilities each day," noting the figures published on its website "provide a snapshot of the number of people with COVID-19 who are currently hospitalized. If a report from a facility is not received in a given day, the report from the previous day will be used.

"Total bed and ventilator usage percentages are based on conventional capacity, not surge capacity. Due to differences in reporting systems, these numbers should not be compared with the cumulative hospitalization data identified through public health investigations."

COVID-19 saliva tests Utah
Employees at Spectrum Solutions assembling COVID-19 saliva test kits on September 21 in Draper, Utah. The intensive care unit (ICU) at the University of Utah Health hospital was reported to have reached 95 percent on Thursday, while average daily new cases across the state were on an upward trend in the past two weeks. George Frey/Getty Images

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 36.6 million people across the globe since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 7.6 million in the U.S. Globally, more than a million have died following infection, while more than 25.5 million have reportedly recovered as of Friday, according to JHU.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, illustrates a survey of U.S. adults concerned about catching COVID-19.

coronavirus americans scared statista

The graphic below, also provided by Statista, illustrates U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

Spread of COVID-19 cases in U.S.