COVID-19 hospitalizations doubled, but mortality rate is low

Jul 13, 2022, 5:05 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2022, 3:42 pm
MURRAY, Utah — After more than two years of dealing with COVID-19, the virus is again making many people sick.
Hospitalizations in Utah and nationwide have doubled in the last ten weeks. Fortunately, this variant is not as deadly as others in the past.
“We’re clearly in a surge phase,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare.
He said that surge is evident in Utah’s very high test positivity rate, high Covid wastewater levels, and high syndromic surveillance.
“All indicators point towards what we know already, that there are a lot of people in the community with Covid,” Webb explained.
Hospitals worldwide are seeing a surge.
Utah hospitals are nearing 200 patients, similar to when the delta variant arrived a year ago. The highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5 is now the dominant strain. 
“We’ve really seen an uptick in the hospitalization numbers,” said the infectious diseases physician. “There are estimates that the BA.5 variant is among the most transmissible respiratory viruses we’ve ever seen.”
Fortunately, Webb said, it is not putting as many people in the ICU.
But, community transmission levels are high in six Utah’s counties, including Salt Lake County.
The doctor said about half of those hospitalized right now are unvaccinated. Vaccination and prior infection provide less protection against this variant. But, they still help modify the severity.
“The more immunity individuals have, the less likely it is that getting Covid again will cause a severe disease,” Webb said.
The doctor expressed it’s a good time to know your own risk and take precautions accordingly. Masking up in crowded indoor spaces or while traveling may be the best strategy for evading this variant.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations doubled, but mortality rate is low