Cache County is seeing a “moderate” increase in hospitalizations after the recent uptick in coronavirus confirmations, but an official number is hard to pin down.
Logan Regional Hospital Administrator Brandon McBride said he’s noticed a bump in patients with COVID-19 but that the hospital is ready for them.
“We have seen, I would say, a moderate increase in emergency-room visits and inpatients who are COVID-positive in the last one to two weeks, but we’re managing that well and feel like we’ve got a really good handle on managing the needs from a hospital standpoint in the community,” McBride said.
One of the often-cited justifications behind COVID-19 precautions like social distancing is to ensure that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed by a wave of infections. McBride said he’s confident in Logan Regional’s coronavirus plan, in place since early March, which contains several ways to “surge” hospital capacity.
“As we’ve seen the surge in volumes in the number of positive cases in the community in the past couple of weeks, those plans are still in place,” McBride said, “and we have enacted those in some cases to ensure that we’ve got the right resources from a staffing and bed capacity standpoint in place.”
One of the steps the hospital took early on was to limit the number of surgeries performed there and train staff to reassign them to other areas of the hospital. Other precautions include protecting patients and employees with personal protective equipment and visitor restrictions.
The Bear River Health District’s cumulative number of lab-confirmed cases surpassed 1,000 on Friday. There were 22 new cases Friday and 62 new cases Thursday, bringing the cumulative total to 1,013. The health department considers 199 of those individuals recovered, meaning they’ve gone three days without symptoms and at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared. Seventy-three of the cases have been in Box Elder County.
While the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased since the outbreak in Cache County began a few weeks ago, it’s hard to pin down a precise number as officials work to deal with the wave of positive virus tests. The Bear River Health Department reported 22 cumulative hospitalizations in the three-county district on Friday, while the Utah Department of Health counts 30 here. The state’s daily number of confirmed cases for the district usually lags behind BRHD’s daily report, adding to the mystery of why the state is counting more hospitalizations.
BRHD spokesperson Josh Greer said the department is following up with the state to determine whether there are hospitalizations it knows about but that haven’t been reported to local health officials.
“I know our epi people have reached out to the state a couple of times, going ‘What are you counting that we’re not?’ And I think we’re still trying to get a grip on those,” Greer said.
While he can’t say for certain what’s causing the discrepancy, Greer said it may be a result of other agencies lending workers to help process the sharply increasing caseload in the Bear River Health District.
State workers “could have been doing some case investigations, putting things in the database, closing things out without really giving our nursing people and our epi people an update, ‘Hey, we had a hospitalization,’” Greer said. “And so where we’ve been using so many other agencies to help, we think there may have been, perhaps, oversight where somebody was hospitalized and so it was reported to the state but they didn’t follow up with us and tell us that.”
The outbreak also caused a bit of a lag in reporting recovered cases, which appeared to stall at 86 cases from June 3 to June 10. Then, on June 11, the number jumped to 199.
“What happened is we all of a sudden started getting that big caseload, and everyone kind of forgot about updating all of their recovery information,” Greer said. “And so now that things are calming down a little bit more, we were able to go through and start looking at some of the cases and saying, ‘Yes, we’ve got this big group that actually have recovered.’”
For more info, visit brhd.org/coronavirus.