Intermountain Logan Regional Hospital Medical Director Taki May is expressing concern as coronavirus cases climb back up in Cache Valley.
“Right now we have high volume of patients in the hospital and we’re really nervous about our COVID numbers because we remember what it was like when it was really bad, and I fear that we’re heading there again,” May said in a video interview distributed Monday by Intermountain Healthcare.
Statewide, hospitalizations from COVID rose 18% to 343 over the past four days as case numbers continue to rise. The seven-day average number of daily cases in Cache County has more than doubled in the past month, from 9.3 to 20.9.
The vast majority of the new cases both locally and statewide have been identified as the new, more-infectious Delta variant of the virus that is sweeping across the world. Bear River Health Department epidemiologist Caleb Harrison said that among the positive Cache County COVID tests sent to the state lab for sequencing, 94% so far this month have been the Delta variant.
“The Delta variant is definitely one of the reasons we’re seeing cases tick back up and why we’re bracing for another wave to come late summer, fall and winter,” Harrison said.
Asked if Logan Regional is prepared for another onslaught of cases like what hit the hospital in 2020, May responded: “We are ready because we have already dealt with this. The difference is that the stress of the pandemic really did hit health care providers in a significant way. Some nurses have moved into other areas of healthcare, some have left the profession, some have gone back to school. So here in Logan as well as across the state and across the country we’re seeing a real staffing problem. We’re bursting at the seams, and if we have more patients with COVID coming in, that’s really going to stress us out.”
The Logan Regional medical director said the hospital has seen one instance of a patient contracting COVID after receiving a vaccine, but she cautioned this should not be interpreted as proof that coronavirus vaccines aren’t working.
“I think as variants become more diverse, they are going to escape our vaccines, but right now all the vaccines that we have are still very effective, and we really need the entire population to participate in the vaccination effort because that’s how we stop the virus in its tracks,” May said. “We hear about them (breakthrough cases) because they are unusual. … We hear about the scary stuff because it’s scary. We don’t hear about the mundane stuff, which is millions of people successfully vaccinated avoiding COVID.”
According to data from the state of Utah, the percentage of the adults in Cache County who have so far been vaccinated against the coronavirus is 57 percent, which May characterized as “good but not great.”
She said the hospital has admitted many non-vaccinated patients, but to date none of her patients have expressed deep regret about foregoing the vaccine — something being reported daily in the national news.
“I personally haven’t experienced any of those stories, but I know that those patients with COVID that I have taken care of, they recognize now that the vaccine would have been an opportunity for them,” she said.
Both May and Harrison said they believe the current local COVID caseload is being underreported because a lot of asymptomatic virus carriers are not getting tested.
A link to May’s video interview can be seen at https://securedrop.intermountain.net/securedrop/public.php?service=files&t=6b454c9b0ca9f665b8c4b67e89b6b318