Utah hospitals are filling up, and more than 95% of the COVID patients weren’t vaccinated

‘These are preventable hospitalizations,’ Intermountain Healthcare doctor says.

(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah.

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There are 231 Utahns hospitalized for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported Tuesday — and a leading Utah doctor confirmed that most didn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine.

”The vast majority of the patients that are being admitted are in the unvaccinated population,” Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said in a COVID-19 community briefing Tuesday over Facebook Live. “From a caregiver’s standpoint, that’s just really disappointing, because these are preventable hospitalizations.”

Another 471 Utahns were diagnosed with COVID-19, UDOH reported Tuesday. And three more people in the state died from the disease.

Hospitals, Stenehjem said, “aren’t full of COVID patients like they were in December and January. The hospitals are just very full, in general, because we’re taking care of patients that need other care.” But the proportion of hospital patients who have COVID-19 is growing, he said.

Fewer than 5% of the COVID-19 patients in hospitals were fully vaccinated, Stenehjem said. The three brands of COVID-19 vaccine now available in the United States — the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna versions, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine — “are just incredibly effective at reducing the risk of hospitalizations and death from COVID-19,” he said.

The fact that 95% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated — and because that figure has remained steady as the Delta variant has become the dominant strain of the virus in Utah — is actually encouraging, Stenehjem said. “[It’s] a good sign to us, saying that this vaccine protects well against severe infection from Delta,” he said.

The dominance of the Delta variant, which was first found in India, and the arrival of the new Lambda variant, which was first diagnosed in South America, “is just a great example of how global health can impact our individual Utah public health,” Stenehjem said. “As long as we still have countries in the world that are poorly vaccinated and have high rates of viral transmission, we’re going to have the development of variants,” Stenehjem said. “It’s so important that vaccines get distributed throughout the world, and make sure we get all of our countries across the globe vaccinated.”

Vaccine doses administered in past day/total doses administered • 4,678 / 2,920,649.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,435,924.

Cases reported in past day • 471.

Deaths reported in past day • Three — a man between the ages of 45-64 in Davis County, and two Salt Lake County women, one 45-64 and one 65-84.

Tests reported in past day • 3,683 people were tested for the first time. A total of 6,409 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 231. That’s 11 more than on Monday. Of those currently hospitalized, 92 are in intensive care, one fewer than on Monday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 12.8%. That’s about the same as the seven-day average of 12.9%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Tuesday’s rate was 7.3%, lower than the seven-day average of 8.7%

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Totals to date • 420,685 cases; 2,402 deaths; 17,857 hospitalizations; 2,838,114 people tested.

This story is developing and will be updated.