After attendees phoned for medical aid for the unnamed woman, who was taken to a nearby hospital, police in Utah County worked with organizers to break up the massive, unpermitted event, which may have drawn several thousand people, police estimated. Multiple people also crashed their cars trying to leave the area, and also requested official assistance, Sgt. Spencer Cannon, a spokesman for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, told KSTU.
Drone footage of the party showed thousands of people packed together, dancing in front of a stage lit with purple lights where a DJ played music. In photos and videos posted to social media, young people in Halloween costumes clung to one another and danced, often touching one another, in the sand.
The Utah County Health Department, which includes the desert area where the party took place, said Sunday the county “has been experiencing record COVID-19 cases” in recent days.
“To see an event of this size is extremely disheartening, as Utah deals with its worst covid-19 outbreak yet,” said Aislynn Tolman-Hill, a spokeswoman for the health department, told KSTU Monday. “Individuals who attended this event absolutely will become ill, we will have positive cases.”
Tolman-Hill added she expects people who may have been infected at the rave to probably pass the virus to other community members who did not attend the party and have been making an effort to socially distance.
Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Utah, increasing by nearly 10 percent in the past week. Hospitals in some parts of the state have been inundated with patients, taxing resources as doctors cope with a 17.7 percent increase in covid-19 patients over the past seven days. At least 614 people have died and more than 117,700 have tested positive in the state since the start of the pandemic.
The event on Saturday appeared to violate state guidelines for large gatherings, which requires organizers to fill out a form describing how they will ensure people wear masks and maintain social distancing. The state also requires event organizers to track attendees, with names and contact information, to facilitate contact tracing in case of an outbreak. Informal events that forego the form are limited to no more than 10 people in high-transmission areas like Utah County, according to state restrictions.
People who attended the party posted photos and videos on social media over the weekend, tagging Utah Tonight and the Tribe Utah, two event-planning groups who had advertised it on social media as an anti-restriction “Protest on Halloween.” Cannon told KSTU Saturday’s event was hosted by organizers from the Tribe Utah.
Although the Tribe Utah and Utah Tonight posted since-deleted photos and videos of the party to their Instagram stories, the organizations have since publicly denied any role in the party. Utah Tonight organizers claimed their “Protest on Halloween” event had been canceled and said Saturday’s party was put on by volunteers who advertised it through fliers sent in private messages to about 300 people on social media.
“State of Utah: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Record cases. Almost every county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed,” read the alert. “By public health order, masks are required in high transmission areas. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer.”
“Be careful!” it warned, alongside a link containing more information about the ever-worsening coronavirus surge.
The messages were sent beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday and remained active for 15 minutes.
Typically used for severe weather and AMBER Alerts, state and local officials are increasingly deploying these Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to warn of Covid-19 spikes as well. Through late September, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local officials had sent the public than 400 such alerts.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, there are a number of people who are not aware of the dire situation we find ourselves in,” state officials said. “As a result, the emergency alert was an effort to “make sure nearly everyone is aware of the serious nature of the pandemic.”
The alert came as the state hit a grim milestone, as Utah hits record highs in several Covid-19 measures, including number of new cases, 7-day case average, and test positivity percentage, the state data dashboard shows.
In a press conference on Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called the state’s situation “one of the worst outbreaks in the country.”
The state reported a record 2,281 new Covid-19 cases Friday, according to state data. Previously, its record high was 1,989 cases on October 22. Furthermore, its 7-day case average now sits at a record of 1,621.7 cases, and its percentage of positive tests is at a record 18.17% as of Friday. All of these barometers are steadily climbing.
Meanwhile, 72.5% of Utah’s ICU beds are occupied, along with 54% of its traditional beds, according to the state dashboard, meaning that hospitals are quickly running out of space for new patients.
CNN’s Jenn Selva contributed to this report.Read More
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday he is “disgusted” after someone shot at a state health department office in what he called an attempt to intimidate public health employees.
The agency said someone shot at its office overnight in the Salt Lake City suburb of Millcreek with what appeared to be a pellet gun. The vandalism occurred the night before the state reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count on Friday.… Read More
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and health officials said Thursday the state may soon need to implement crisis care protocols as hospitals reach a breaking point amid a record coronavirus surge.
Understaffing and a shortage of ICU beds could soon force Utah hospitals to shift to the protocols that dictate how patients will be treated when the system is overloaded.Read More
They told Herbert that they’d need to put the criteria in place if the coronavirus trend continues, Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, told the Tribune.
“At the end of the day, some senior person, versus some healthy young person, probably would not get the nod,” Bell said.
Bell said Utah is suffering from a “phenomenal case growth and spread rate” of Covid-19.
The state reported more than 1,000 new cases per day for the last 12 days. On Sunday, Utah had its highest seven-day average for new daily cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 104,882 people in Utah have been infected with coronavirus, and at least 572 people have died.
Even before a formal rationing of health care, one Utah mother who suffered a heart attack was delayed in getting adequate treatment due to the Covid-19 surge.
Eventually, Terry was taken to a hospital that had the specialized care she needed, but her condition has gotten worse.
“We’ve seen, in the past couple of weeks, that our health care system is at capacity,” state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,” she said. “I’m really not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to inform you of what’s going on and give you the facts.”
Herbert had one wish for the public:
“I would hope that people will take this seriously,” the governor said.
CNN’s Holly Yan and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.Read More
Hospitals in Utah will soon be forced begin prioritizing younger COVID-19 patients over older ones amid surging rate of hospitalizations from the virus in the state, doctors warned Utah’s governor on Thursday.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that hospital administrators in the state asked Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to approve a plan that would take drastic steps to reduce intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the event of hospital ICUs being overwhelmed, which they said was a serious possibility in the days ahead.
If ICUs are nearing capacity, patients who are not seen to be improving even with intensive care will be asked to consider moving to a regular hospital bed. Doctors will also be asked to clearly communicate with patients about do-not-resuscitate orders.
“These discussions on goals of care need to occur independently from triage decisions,” read the guidelines, according to the newspaper. “Providers must be careful not to coerce patients or their families.”
Once ICUs reach capacity, hospitals will take matters into their own hands to determine ICU priority, according to the Tribune. Lower priority will be given to patients who are older if two patients are otherwise equally eligible for an ICU bed, while those who are pregnant receive higher priority.
A spokesperson for Herbert’s office and other state officials confirmed to the Tribune and other news outlets that ICUs in the state are nearing capacity, but did not confirm if Herbert would approve the plan proposed by hospital administrators.
“Right now, it feels very close to being under the crisis standards of care. The [hospital administrators] were very clear about the level of stress that they’re under,” said Joe Dougherty, an official with Utah’s Division of Emergency Management. “We can have a public health order…but even with that in place, we still need people to choose to limit their gatherings.”
“We are not there yet, but we are too close, uncomfortably close,” added a spokesman for the governor.
Utah’s daily rate of new coronavirus cases is now double what it was at the peak of the first wave of cases earlier this year, with state officials reporting 1,543 new cases on Saturday, according to The New York Times. 319 patients are currently hospitalized across the state with the virus, while 568 deaths have been reported in the state since the pandemic began.
The virus now had the ability to potentially kill a patient — his patient — even if she wasn’t infected.
Hours before, Terry, a 47-year-old mother and wife, had suffered a heart attack in her Herriman, Utah, home. According to her sister, she had to be revived four times in the ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital.
Once there, the medical staff and her doctor quickly determined Terry would likely die if she didn’t get the more sophisticated life-saving treatment found in an intensive care unit of a larger hospital.
“He (the doctor) told us right away, we’re doing everything we can to try and find a hospital that can take Laurie, and we can’t find one,” Stephanie Deer, Terry’s sister, said.
“If you would have seen the look on that doctor’s face, he was incredulous. He couldn’t believe he was telling us this.”
Deer and her sister are not alone.
The state is experiencing “one of the worst (coronavirus) outbreaks in the country,” Utah Gov. Garry Herbert said Tuesday.
As a result, patients suffering other life-threatening medical events — non-Covid related — are in a dangerous competition for limited specialized medical care.
The state’s total ICU usage was at almost 70%, Herbert said Tuesday, and almost 16% of the state’s ICU beds are used to treat Covid-19 patients.
On Friday, the University of Utah hospital’s ICU was at 104% capacity.
Covid surge taking a toll on Utah doctors
Dr. Emily Spivak, among the doctors helping treat Covid patients in Utah, feels frustrated and upset by the surge in cases — because she said she knows this shouldn’t be happening. Coronavirus is preventable by hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing.
She reached her breaking point in a parking lot outside the level one trauma center where she works in Salt Lake City.
“Well I was trying so hard not to,” she said, referring to her tears. “I mean honestly this is just super frustrating.”
Spivak said she sees many people in public no longer following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — and believes they’ve just grown complacent.
“I don’t see an end. No one’s doing anything to stop what’s happening,” she said. “It’s kind of like people just are going out and living their lives not realizing that they are exhausting our healthcare system.”
Deer said she witnessed the frustration of doctors firsthand.
“I watched those nurses call for hours, trying other systems, doing everything they could, I mean desperate.” she said.
“I don’t know how the doctors and nurses and things are going to be able to keep this up when your whole life, your whole profession is dedicated to saving people’s lives and you can’t access medical care for a patient.”