Logan Regional Hospital’s ICU beds are full due to an influx of COVID-19 patients, and the hospital’s options to transfer serious patients elsewhere are limited due to similar situations throughout the state.
That’s according to a joint statement from Logan Regional Hospital and the Bear River Health Department on Tuesday addressing the recent influx of COVID-19 cases in Cache Valley and across Utah.
“This situation is dire and means if there are urgent cases there is nowhere for them to go at our hospital, and even less ability to transfer them outside of our hospital as most facilities in our state are in a similar situation,” stated Taki May, Logan Regional’s medical director. “The past 18 months have been exhausting for our caregivers and this pandemic has taken a huge toll on all of us mentally and emotionally.”
There are no open beds in Logan Regional’s intensive care or medical nursing units. While not all of the hospital’s ICU patients are there for COVID-related issues, 40% of its ICU patients currently have tested positive for the disease. Of the hospital’s COVID patients, 95% are not fully vaccinated. Trips to the hospital’s emergency department are up 33% from normal, meaning they’re consistently treating more than 100 patients a day.
Despite those figures, Logan Regional officials state that people should not delay seeking emergency care and that people should continue to “utilize our health care resources including telehealth, urgent care, and emergency medicine in our community.”
Cache Valley Hospital, located just down the road from Logan Regional, is not yet at capacity. They have 28 inpatient beds and a fully operational, 24/7 emergency room with board-certified emergency care physicians.
Like Logan Regional and the Bear River Health Department, Cache Valley Hospital asks those experiencing COVID symptoms not to delay care as some people did last year.
Jami Cottle, chief nursing officer at Cache Valley Hospital, wants the community to know Cache Valley Hospital is here and is willing “to help with any health care needs the community might have.” She, along with many other health care professionals, urge residents to get vaccinated and continue to wear masks.
“It is our hope that with new FDA approval of (the vaccine from) Pfizer people will feel relief and find it safer to get the vaccination. It’s a simple thing the community can do as a whole to stop the spread of COVID,” Cottle said.
Vaccinations can currently be received without charge at the Bear River Health Department, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at any local pharmacy. People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised to seek professional help immediately.
Logan Regional Hospital and the health department are encouraging Cache Valley residents to get vaccinated and wear masks, asking residents “to play your part to help our health care workers and our community.”
In Cache Valley, there have been approximately 41 reported COVID cases a day over the past seven days. Utah State University spokesperson Emilie Wheeler said that if the State Legislature makes any new announcements regarding mask mandates or COVID updates, Utah State will be sure to follow.
“We will continue to encourage masks and vaccines,” Wheeler said.
Currently, masks are only enforced on public shuttles due to federal recommendations. The Utah State Legislature passed a law prohibiting mask mandates in public institutions of higher education, and mandates can only be placed on public K-12 schools by local health departments, although county councils may override them. Following the ban on mandates, Utah State still encourages masks indoors. A vaccination mandate will be in effect beginning spring semester.
To encourage vaccinations, Utah State will be hosting clinics starting Sept. 1. Students can preregister or show up any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Following there will be vaccine clinics on Sept. 8, 15 and 29 from 1-4 p.m. for both students and employees.
Gox. Spencer Cox shared his concerns regarding COVID in a press briefing on Tuesday, urging Utahns to wear masks and get vaccinated.
As cases involving the Delta Variant become worse, Cox is looking to reconvene with the Utah State Legislature in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Cox praised the turnout of vaccine clinics at Weber State University, so Wheeler hopes for similar results at Utah State.
Cox has been meeting with members of the Utah Legislature to find consensus on further measures. There are 1.8 million Utahns with at least one dose of the vaccine, but that means there are 1.5 million without it. Many of the latter group are young children who are unable to access the vaccine at this time.
Pediatric beds are also filling up. Pediatric hospitals in the state are treating on average 12-17 children a day for COVID-related cases, according to Dr. Chris Miller of Primary Children’s Hospital. Five to seven of those child patients end up in the ICU. In the past week alone, Intermountain Hospitals have treated 31-52 children.
Dr. Michelle Hoffmann presented more data on a surge of new COVID cases, especially in schools. Over a rolling seven day average, cases have grown from 795 to 1,263. School age cases are 3.5 times higher than this time last year, and following the legislature’s restrictions on mask mandates, few children are wearing them in class.
“We know kids are very unlikely to get seriously ill, but the sheer amount of transmission turns that small percentage into a fairly large number of hospitalizations,” Hoffman said.
The number of COVID patients has more than tripled since June 1 statewide and does not appear to be slowing down. Both Hoffman and Cox urge Utahns to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the delta variant as well as continue to wear masks.