In This State, a 'Grim List' Amid COVID Spike

Hospitals will likely soon have to choose which patients get booted from ICUs and which stay
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2020 8:01 AM CDT
In This State, a 'Grim List' Amid COVID Spike
Medical staff in Utah hospitals may soon have a difficult decision to make.   (Getty Images/PongMoji)

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was presented Thursday with what the Salt Lake Tribune calls a "grim list" from hospital administrators, amid a record number of COVID-19 cases in the state. On that list are triage protocols known as "crisis standards of care," which Herbert would need to OK, for use by doctors who may soon be forced to decide who can remain in ICUs teeming with patients. What those criteria spell out: that among ICU patients with all other conditions equal, patients getting worse would be moved out ICU first, with younger patients getting priority to stay, as they have a better chance of survival. Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, says that presenting the criteria to Herbert had become necessary, as it seems inevitable hospitals will soon be overloaded, with scarce ICU beds, a lack of staff even when beds do free up, and logistical issues with moving patients around.

"You can put water in your gravy to a certain point," Bell says. "Then it's just water with gravy in it." Health officials are worried that the number of new cases in the state are record-breaking—and hospitalizations typically see a spike a week to 10 days after a rise in overall case numbers. On Friday, Herbert noted the most recent "somber record": 1,960 new cases reported, a single-day high in the state, per KSL. KUTV shows the cumulative COVID-19 cases by day and week, stretching back to March, and Herbert is worried that those numbers won't get better anytime soon. "I am deeply concerned COVID exhaustion is at an all-time high," he tweeted Friday. "I want to remind everyone that by public health order, masks are required in 21 counties. Now more than ever, we need you to follow our guidance." (Read more Utah stories.)

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