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Utah hospitals are not equipped for an increase in COVID-19 cases, says government and policy analysis

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While health officials warn that Utah hospitals could be overwhelmed if the rate of COVID-19 infections in the state continues to rise, an analysis of health data shows that Utah may be among the least equipped states to handle a wave of coronavirus cases.

The analysis, conducted by the QuoteWizard company, examined data from the Kaiser Family Foundation on hospital beds and the number of doctors per 1,000 people per state, as well as data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the percentage of hospital beds. occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“The ability of the healthcare system to manage COVID-19 depends on how many people have access to essential healthcare components such as hospital beds, nurses, doctors and equipment such as fans,” wrote Adam Johnson of QuoteWizard on July 14th. “The analysis is intended to show where cases are popping up; there is a correlation between hospital capacity and the way the prepared states’ hospital systems were before the pandemic.”

Analysts ranked states according to four criteria: doctors per 1,000 people, hospital beds per 1,000 people, percentage of COVID-19 occupying beds and growth in the state’s seven-day moving average between June and July.

Based on all four categories, analysts have classified Utah as the “least prepared for hospital capacity” state.

The surrounding states of Idaho, Nevada and Arizona filled the other three main points of the least equipped states for a surge in COVID-19 cases, followed by Hawaii, Colorado and Texas. West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Missouri and Ohio have been classified as the best equipped states to deal with a wave of cases.

According to data analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Utah has 2.11 doctors per thousand people, which is lower than the national average of 2.96. Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming are the only states with a lower ratio between doctors and people, while Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York have the most doctors per 1,000 people.

Utah has the third lowest number of beds per 1,000 people, 1.82, compared to the national average, 2.4. Oregon and Washington both have lower ratios than Utah. South Dakota has the largest number of beds per 1,000 people, 4.76, followed by North Dakota, Mississippi, West Virginia and Nebraska.

Utah is much lower in other categories, such as the percentage of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients, 4.8%, compared to 28.4% in Arizona, 16.3% in Florida and 16% in Texas .

Utah is below the national average growing the seven-day moving average of cases between June 7 and July 7, which increased by 148% nationwide and 70% in Utah.

The states with the highest growth rate on average are Montana, 1.175%; Florida, 736%; and Idaho, 716%; and the states with the lowest percentage increases are Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where growth in average cases has dropped by 71%, 68% and 53%, respectively.

Utah health officials said state hospitals could be overwhelmed if daily case numbers continued on the same trajectory.

On July 8, Tracy Hill, medical director of Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, told the Utah County Commission that COVID-19 hospitalizations were “on the rise” and, if daily cases continued to increase until August, “We will increase our ability to take care of these people.”

“Right now, we are in excellent shape,” said Hill. “Having said that, if this surge continues on the current pace, we may be … overwhelmed.”

On July 10, executives from the University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare called on Governor Gary Herbert to implement a state-wide mask mandate, citing a decline in the availability of intensive care (ICU) beds.

More than 60% of ICU beds in hospitals across the state have been occupied since Monday, according to the Utah Department of Health. Just under 54% of non-ICU beds had been occupied since Monday.

Connor Richards covers the government, environment and southern Utah county for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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