As Utah braces for another COVID-19 surge, doctors recommend how to reduce risk
Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the US, including Utah. The latest variant has been linked to forty percent of total coronavirus cases. During Intermountain Healthcare’s weekly update on May 19, 2022, infectious disease expert from Intermountain Healthcare, Dr. Brandon Webb, said Utah is currently in another surge phase and he expects cases and hospitalizations to rise for at least another month.
“We are still seeing severe disease. And severe disease results in hospitalization, ICU admissions and death. That is a big focus and the patient populations that are still experiencing severe disease are predictable and at that this point, one of the most important parts of our strategy to live with Covid as it ebbs and flows is one of personalized, individualized risk reduction,” said Dr. Webb.
He said identifying risk level has to do with five things; 1. Immunity, if an individual has had Omicron recently they can have some immunity to the subvariant. 2. Vaccination, effective protection requires three doses. 3. Age, people age fifty and over are more at risk for severe disease. 4. Overall health, which includes the number of medical conditions. 5. Behavior, such as activities people engage in out in the community given how prevalent COVID is at any given time.
“Look at it in terms of strategy. No longer one size fits all. Most of the country is in a medium risk environment and personalizing your risk reduction is doing things to prevent getting Covid or passing it on,” said Dr. Webb.
Dr. Andrew Pavia of Primary Children’s Hospital said the positive COVID test rate in children increased five-fold in early April but luckily, they have not seen hospitalizations increase dramatically yet. He has another concern, hospitals are full with non COVID patients along with a major staffing shortage.
“And right now we are experiencing a lot of staff absenteeism due to people calling in with Covid and that is really putting pressure on our ability to deliver care and that’s what I really worry about for the next two or three weeks, rather than see a huge amount of severe illness in children,” said Dr. Pavia.