Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of infectious disease at University of Utah Health, left, and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, right, listen as Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Lawmaker-physician says Herbert’s ‘do the right thing’ mantra isn’t working
SALT LAKE CITY — With another record-shattering day of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, some health experts say it’s crystal clear that Utah’s approach to stemming the pandemic hasn’t been working.
To Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious disease at the University of Utah, that reality fits a disturbing definition.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome,” Pavia told the Deseret News Thursday, hours before state officials announced a new daily record of 1,501 COVID-19 cases amid a nearly weeklong streak of over 1,000 cases a day.
“It’s clear we are at a point we need to pull out some new tools and do something differently.”
Yet no new tools were presented Thursday as Gov. Gary Herbert addressed Utahns in his weekly coronavirus briefing. Instead, he continued his same old rallying cry for Utahns to decide to “do the right thing” by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
He repeated his reluctance to issue a statewide mask mandate, pointing again to Utah’s variety of rural and urban communities, and the aversion some people have to government orders.
That’s all while Utah’s hospital system is on the brink.
A tearful Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of infectious disease at University of Utah Health, described how the intensive care unit at University of Utah Hospital was at 95% capacity on Thursday. Hospital doctors and nurses, she said, are being pushed to the point of exhaustion and sharing “heartbreaking” stories of COVID-19’s victims.
“They’re feeling very overwhelmed,” Spivak said, her voice straining with emotion. “We feel supported, we have great leadership, but people are really tired. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of infectious disease at University of Utah Health, speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.‘Stay tuned’
That increase in hospitalizations comes while Utah’s case surge continues, and new infection rates are shifting from the state’s younger population to those who are older — leaving medical experts to predict the increase in hospitalization rates has yet to peak.
“I think we’re all tired,” Herbert said, taking the podium after Spivak walked away from the microphone. He took a somber pause before adding, “It’s like we’re in the third quarter of a very difficult contest, and we’re just kind of going into halftime a little bit tired. We need to have a little modification of our game strategy. We need to have everybody on the team come together and put forth our best efforts. And if we …read more
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