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As Utah said another 26 people died from COVID-19, a one-day record, doctors repeated their one-word request to residents who wanted to gather in large groups on Thanksgiving: No.
“Any small gathering will increase COVID-19 transmission,” Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said in a virtual briefing on Wednesday. “We ask you to stay in your home, to stay in your family.”
The number of deaths on Wednesday increases the state’s deaths due to COVID-19 to 834. UDOH has identified the 26 people whose deaths were reported on Wednesday:
• Two Box Elder County men: one between 65 and 84 years old and the other over 85 years old.
• Four Davis County residents – women between the ages of 65 and 84 and three men: One between 25 and 44, one between 65 and 84, one over 85 years old.
• Duchesne County male over 85 years of age.
• Seven Salt Lake County residents – three men: One between 25 and 44, one between 45 and 64, one between 65 and 84; and four women, one between the ages of 65 and 84, and three women over the age of 85.
• Two Sanpete County men, both between 65 and 84.
• A Summit County woman between 65 and 84.
• Six Utah County residents – Two men, one between the ages of 65 and 84 and one over the age of 85; and four women, one between the ages of 65 and 84 and three over the age of 85.
• Three Washington County women, one between the ages of 45 and 64, two over the age of 85.
The number of new COVID-19 cases was 1,781, the lowest since 3 November. The average positivity rate, the rolling seven-day average, drops to 22% after two weeks of 24.6%.
However, UDOH also reported that 570 COVID-19 people were hospitalized in Utah – a one-day record.
Hospital care for COVID-19 cases is approaching capacity in many hospitals in Utah, Stenehjem said. If Thanksgiving becomes a “scattered” event, as public health experts have warned, he added, “these hospital patients will continue to grow until December and the Christmas holiday.”
Utah hospitals are already juggling staff, opening additional ICU wards, hiring extra nurses, and bringing in non-hospital doctors to handle the workload, Stenehjem said. Intermountain announced this week that it is investigating the postponement of some “non-urgent” surgeries – such as postponing operations on hip prostheses, although that means patients with chronic pain will continue to suffer, Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem said he saw the impact the surge in COVID-19 cases had on doctors and nurses. “Our caregivers are tired. Sometimes they are frustrated and downright angry ”when they see people in shops or restaurants and do not follow the often repeated guidelines of wearing masks or maintaining social distance. “We know that the activities we witness in our community lead to increased mortality in our communities,” Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem reiterated the health recommendation that people only gather with people in their own homes for Thanksgiving – and avoid traveling to other houses and inviting friends and relatives from elsewhere.
“The real risk is to accommodate someone in your home who is asymptomatic,” Stenehjem said. “Home is an opportunity where we let our guard down. We take off our masks. Let’s eat food. “
Cases of COVID-19 occurred after Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Halloween, Stenehjem said as people gathered to celebrate the holidays. But in those days, gatherings were usually outdoors – barbecues and gimmicks – where Thanksgiving is “winter and it’s not a great opportunity outside,” he said.
Dr. Travis Mickelson, director of behavioral health integration at Intermountain, said mental health professionals “appreciate that many of us struggle and really need them. [a] level of social relations at present. “
Mickelson suggested alternatives to large gatherings to find a sense of connection. “Maybe they can do something to help someone else?” They find that selflessness shows this connection, ”Mickelson said. – Can he go out? Shall we go for a walk in nature? It also increases social relationships. “
The inherited worries of an epidemic can trigger a fight or escape reaction in people, increasing people’s stress levels. Because “our brains tend to focus on the negative,” Mickelson says people can try to offset this by identifying three good things that happened in their day at the end of the day. Vigilance activities such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can also reduce the physical effects of stress, he said.
“It can be just as effective as anything else in treating stress and anxiety,” Mickelson said.
Studies have shown that if we think about good things for a day for two weeks, “the benefits can last for six months,” he said.
The state reported that it processed 13,062 COVID-19 tests in the past day. UDOH processed 15,528 trials on Tuesday and 7,462 on Monday.
Most test sites will be closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and many will work on a reduced schedule over the weekend. The state health department will also take leave on Thursday and will only update the case count and UDOH dashboard until Friday.