Utah doctors worry about extremely congested hospitals, possible COVID-19 surge

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

“It’s interesting,” says Dr. Brandon Webb, Intermountain Healthcare’s infectious disease physician. “We’re actually in a near mirror image of where we went to Thanksgiving last year.”

Intermountain Healthcare doctors say hospital admissions are reaching or exceeding their early December 2020 peak.

“We are bursting at the seams. We’ve never had as many COVID patients as we have now,” said Dr. webb.

Unlike 2020, other respiratory viruses will hospitalize people, including RSV, croup and the flu.

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

“This puts a significant load on our system. We also hear from our colleagues at Primary Children’s and across the state who are faced with very difficult decisions,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, Chief Medical Operations Officer at the University of Utah.

Utah remains in the top ten state for the highest rates of COVID-19 in the country. Like last year, doctors expect a big increase after Thanksgiving.

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

“A year ago we told people to think about getting together with friends and family for Thanksgiving. This year vaccines are very effective and we’re telling people you can get together safely if you’re vaccinated,” said Dr. Vinik.

Doctors suggest that people who have not received an injection should sit out this Thanksgiving.

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