HEALTH

Doctors say Utah ‘not in a good place’ preparing for COVID-19 in the winter months

Nov 12, 2021, 9:48 PM

covid-19 tests utahn died...

File Photo: A long line line of cars waiting for COVID-19 testing in the parking lot across the street from the UDOH main offices. Photo credit: Paul Nelson, August 30, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – There are some bleak predictions from health care workers in Utah. Doctors say we have “no room for error” when it comes to preparing for the winter months and possible surges of COVID-19 cases. 

Here’s one problem, according to Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Disease Doctor Brandon Webb, hospitals are already seeing a very early start to the pediatric respiratory viral season. Primary Children’s Hospital’s inpatient rate is already at “peak winter volumes,” Webb said.

“We usually don’t see these types of volumes until much later in the winter, when RSV hits its peak,” Webb said.

With health care resources already being strained, Webb says Utah has “no room for error” in prepping for the rise in COVID-19 cases that they expect to see.

“We’re not in a good place going into the winter months, right now.  Our case transmission is still high,” Webb said.

Reasons to be pessimistic

Officials say the ICUs at Intermountain facilities are at or beyond capacity with COVID and non-COVID cases.  They’ve opened more beds in some hospitals, but they’re having trouble finding enough nurses to cover those expanded units.

Here’s another problem, scientists are tracking a shift in surging cases coming from eastern state to western states, similar to what happened in the spring of 2020, Webb said.  In the past few weeks, Idaho saw a severe spike in COVID-19 cases, and Webb said things are getting worse in neighboring Colorado.

“Our neighbors, just to the east of us in Colorado, are seeing a significant upswing.  In fact, they are, right now, having to enact measures to prevent overwhelming the health care system,” he said.

The number of new infections appears to have “steadied” in Utah, however, that isn’t necessarily good news, Webb said.

Webb said, “We’re grateful that we haven’t surged to the degree that we have seen in some of the other states.  At the same time, our ‘steady’ state right now, over the last few weeks, is still too high to be comfortable.”

Reasons to be optimistic 

Webb said it’s too soon to tell if making vaccines available for kids between the ages of five and 11 will have a major impact on the spread of the virus, but researchers believe that it will.  He cited projections from the CDC that show vaccinations among this age group will slow the spread to adults, possibly eliminating 60 thousand hospital admissions, nationwide.

Webb believes the best way to protect public health is to create a “immunization buffer” which could include vaccine-acquired immunization and infection-acquired immunization.  He says both forms of immunity are good and there doesn’t need to be two separate camps arguing about which is better.  He also says immunity wanes with both methods, but vaccines are better at preventing hospitalizations.  Webb cited research showing people who were infected with COVID-19 then received at least one dose of the vaccine have stronger immunity from the disease.

Currently, infection-acquired immunity is not recognized as part of the public health strategy in the U.S., but that could change.   Countries like Switzerland have recognized IAI as a temporary equivalent to vaccination, Webb said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

The impact of spring colors on mental health

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Sally Augustin to learn how we can use spring colors to improve our mental health.

2 hours ago

The Delta Center and the skyline in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Jazz owner Ryan Smith...

Michael Camit

SLC’s Main Street redesign is open to suggestions from disabled Utahns

With proposals for the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City, ADA experts want to hear from disabled Utahns.

2 days ago

Suicide Rock in Parley's Canyon in 2023, before the myrtle spurge was sprayed with treatment....

Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Roundup sprayed via drone in Millcreek, Parley’s canyons to kill invasive weed. DWR says it’s needed

In an attempt to kill weeds, the Department of Wildlife Resources sprayed pesticides in the foothills of Millcreek and Parley’s canyons.

2 days ago

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

3 days ago

Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Josh Scharman conducts the grand opening of the Community Connections...

Eric Cabrera

Social workers with Salt Lake Police Department are responding to more callers than ever

The Community Connection Center social workers who work with the Salt Lake Police Department are getting an increase in mental health-related calls, as a result they have grown their team to able to respond to more.

4 days ago

the us house of representatives shown at the capitol, the house passed a bill about sodium nitrite...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

House passes bill to ban a compound used in suicides

Legislation backed by Rep. Celeste Maloy would ban the consumer sale of sodium nitrite, a product becoming increasingly common in suicides.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Doctors say Utah ‘not in a good place’ preparing for COVID-19 in the winter months