COVID-19 mobile testing unit for intermountain 06

Phlebotomist Ethan Laudie talks with patients before administering a nasal swab at a mobile COVID-19 testing site provided by Intermountain Healthcare at Orem Community Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The following op-ed is authored by the chief medical officers from HCA/MountainStar Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, Steward Health Care, and University of Utah Health.

As leaders and physicians in Utah’s healthcare community, we’ve been watching cautiously as new COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in the past 14 days throughout the state, and in particular, several counties.

We have urged all Utahns to heed the serious warnings from medical experts regarding this virus, and to take proactive steps to protect their health and the health of others through steps to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in our communities. Yet, many are not heeding these warnings.

We, along with all of the state’s medical community, continue to advocate for people to wear face masks at all times when in public, socially distance from others by at least 6 feet, avoid large crowds and gatherings, practice good hand hygiene, and to stay home and isolated if sick.

Recently, Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah County Commission announced additional measures to address the state’s growing cases of COVID-19. Collectively, we as medical leaders of Utah’s major health systems, support the move to orange and mandate that masks be worn in public.

We implore all Utahns to continue to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask when around others. Furthermore, we ask all public servants to enforce the emergency rules along with other local ordinances and state laws that keep all of us safe.

The potential impact from increasing COVID-19 cases on the state’s hospitals and our ability to ensure available resources and personnel for future COVID and non-COVID patients is critical. As we enter the fall season, with influenza and other seasonal ailments, it’s critical that we collectively reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases.

We have seen the results in other states when residents don’t heed these important warnings. We are already experiencing an increase in the number of Utahns admitted to our hospitals and requiring care in our intensive care units, and with flu season upon us we will need our ICU’s and critical care resources to be available.

We feel strongly that every Utahn who becomes ill, who is hospitalized, and who dies because we do not socially distance, practice hand hygiene, and practice mask wearing, is a failure of the individual responsibility we all have toward each other.

Together, we can get through this pandemic. But, as this virus is a serious and dangerous communicable health threat, we know that it will take ALL of us working together to reduce transmission, and to ultimately, reduce serious illnesses and death in our community.

We believe these actions are necessary, we support these actions, and ask everyone to do their part as individuals and leaders to come together and to unite to help keep all Utahns safe during this unprecedented time.

— Michael Baumann, MD

(HCA/MountainStar Healthcare)

— Mark Briesacher, MD

(Intermountain Healthcare)

— Arlen Jarrett, MD

(Steward Health Care)

— Thomas Miller, MD

(University of Utah Health)

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