Governor Herbert is deciding this week whether to put a statewide mask mandate in place in response to public health experts who have been warning that the current rate of spread of coronavirus in Utah is unsustainable and threatens to overwhelm our healthcare system.
Between June 10th and June 21st the Utah Public Health Department reported that the use of ICU beds lept from 15% to 62.2%, with patients remaining in the ICU an average of 30 days. Though ICU beds and ventilators in the state are not yet at capacity, experts warn that adequate health care requires the “Three Ss:” space, supplies and staff. If the healthcare workforce reaches capacity, difficult decisions will have to be made to limit and prioritize care, which can lead to unnecessary deaths.
In rural areas where there is far less capacity for intensive care, the problem is worse. In St. George, where positive coronavirus cases began increasing exponentially after the reopening and the ICU reached near capacity two weeks ago, public health workers are pleading with people to wear masks and socially distance.