Here's what Utah's COVID case surge means for hospital capacity

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Healthcare worker in action at a hospital. (FILE: KUTV)

COVID cases are skyrocketing but hospitalizations are staying at stable levels, for now.

Friday, Utah recorded its single largest case count of 1,117 cases.

Hospitalizations, however, hoovered near when it has for weeks at 131, which is ten more than two Friday's ago.

At 12.5%, Utah's infection rate is the highest it's been during the pandemic.

Greg Bell, the president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association says:

That’s scary, it’s scary."

Hospitalizations lag cases by about two weeks and Bell says hospitals have planned for high capacity since early on.

Bell says:

If we have similar hospitalization rates as we had in June or July it’s going to really present some challenges."

COVID patients peaked at about 21% of capacity over the summer and today it’s around 10%.

Overall hospital space is about 60% full right now and Bell says 80% capacity is when the warning bells go off adding “if we get to 1,200, 1,300, 1,400 cases a day that’s probably really going to test the limit.”

Unlike over the summer more younger people are getting sick, which do not require as many trips to the hospital. Bell says:

Even if they’re younger and healthier they go home they have grandma they go see someone they’re out and about in stores."

Bell says fewer COVID patients have had to stay in the hospital because of advancements in drugs and treatment.

“Hospitals are prepared they’re vigilant but please help us out” says Bell.

As of Friday morning, the University of Utah Health system had 16 COVID patients in the hospital.

The health system has been hovering around 20 patients for the last 2-3 weeks, with the average ICU stay of eight days.

Dr. Russell Vinik says U Health normally runs in the 90% capacity range, so over 25 COVID patients puts the U Health system close to 100% capacity.

Intermountain Health did not immediately return a request for how many COVID patients are in their hospitals.