St. George Hospital is exceeding capacity as the COVID-19 resurgence persists nationwide

ST. GEORGE – St. George Regional Hospital has had days with more patients admitted than beds available this past week as COVID-19 resurgence continues – mostly those in southern Utah, the state and the nation who are not vaccinated.

St. George Regional Hospital. St. George, Utah. March 13, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

While hospital officials note that the above capacity designation includes patients who postponed treatment during the pandemic, they say the biggest factor is the continued surge in COVID-19 patients. This week the surge hit levels not seen since January. It was then that the COVID-19 vaccine was first distributed.

Mitch Cloward, administrator of St. George Regional Hospital, told Ivins City Council Thursday evening that there were 300 patients in the 284-bed hospital at the time, including “about 38 very sick patients with COVID.” And according to the Utah Department of Health, the hospital has consistently exceeded 40 COVID-19 patients over the past week.

At this time, all COVID-19 patients in southern Utah in all five counties will be placed at St. George Hospital.

U.S. Department of Health statistics show that, from July 2-8, according to the latest statistics available, southern Utah had the second largest concentration of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state, behind Uintah County.

During the tapping of PBS Utah’s monthly governor’s press conference Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox told St. George News that a major reason for the rising hospital admission rates in southern Utah is because not enough people are being vaccinated.

Governor Spencer Cox speaks during a taping of PBS Utah’s Governor’s Monthly News Conference program on July 15, 2021. Salt Lake City, Utah | Photo courtesy PBS Utah

“We saw in Washington County and Iron County that vaccination rates were slightly lower, resulting in higher hospitalization rates,” said Cox. “The lack of urgency I think is this feeling that this is gone and ‘I don’t have to worry.’ What I hope is the outreach that will take place in these local areas. And certainly we’re talking to our local health districts (who) have to keep telling the stories … of real people who chose not to get vaccinated and now wish they had. “

David Heaton, spokesman for the Southwest Utah Department of Health, told St. George News that “approximately 40%” of southern Utah residents are fully vaccinated, although he added that “most of our seniors and vulnerable populations have been vaccinated” .

According to the Utah Department of Health, there were 64 new COVID-19 infections in southern Utah on Friday, most in one day since February 26, with 869 people currently testing positive for COVID-19 in the five counties’ area.

Utah is not alone in the COVID-19 resurgence. This week saw a sharp spike in COVID-19 rates and hospital admissions across the country, according to the Centers of Disease Control, with the largest increases seen in Florida, Nevada, Arkansas and Missouri. “This becomes a pandemic for the unvaccinated“Said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a press conference at the White House.

Map shows which parts of Utah will have a higher percentage of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 from July 2-8, 2021 | Chart courtesy of the US Department of Health / University of Minnesota, St. George News | click to enlarge

Just across the Utah border in Mesquite and Clark Counties, Nevada, the Southern Nevada Health District issued a non-mandatory recommendation on Friday that masks should be worn indoors by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Los Angeles County, a six-hour drive away, has gone even further and makes mask compulsory again from Saturday.

On Thursday, Cox said he was reluctant to reintroduce masking requirements in Utah, especially as both the state’s legislative and local leaders are firmly opposed to a return to the kind of emergency orders and restrictions that existed during the worst Times of the pandemic were observed. Cox said the discussion of additional measures to contain the COVID-19 resurgence had already taken place.

“The discussion is that we know what to do and that we keep getting people vaccinated.”

Those who have had COVID-19 are advised to get vaccinated as well

St. George News learned that some local officials have expressed confusion over whether those who have already had COVID-19 should get the vaccine.

A young recipient received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Cedar City office of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department on May 17, 2021. Cedar City, Utah | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

During Wednesday’s session of Springdale City Council, Mayor Stan Smith, Dr. David Blodgett, director of the Public Health Department of Southwest Utah, told him that those who have had COVID-19 do not need to be vaccinated. City Councilor Suzanne Elger agreed that CDC guidelines are that those who had the virus still need to be vaccinated to be protected as there have been cases of people who have already had COVID-19 getting it back.

That feeling was confirmed on Friday by Charla Haley, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health, who told St. George News that studies have shown that the natural protection against the virus lasts for about 90 days, unlike studies that which show that the vaccines at this point offer years of protection.

“If it has been less than 90 days since testing positive, it may be okay if you wait more than 90 days to vaccinate since you tested positive,” Haley said.

Heaton said this was also the message from the Public Health District of Southwest Utah.

“I am not aware of any recommendation not to get vaccinated if you have previously been infected,” said Heaton. “We encouraged people to follow CDC guidelines to get vaccinated even if they had COVID-19.”

A letter published in The Lancet in March discussed an experiment in which 51 health care workers in London were given a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Half of health care workers had previously recovered from Covid-19 and they saw the largest increase in antibodies – more than 140 times the pre-vaccination peak – against the virus’ spike protein.

Professor Mahdad Noursadeghi of the Department of Infection and Immunity at the University College of London said: “Previous infections in this group go back to the start of the epidemic in London. The fact that a vaccine dose has such a potentiating effect almost a year later underscores the longevity of immune memory against this infection and increases our confidence that interval booster vaccinations can be an effective means of maintaining high levels of immunity in the future. ”

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those currently able to receive the first dose of the vaccine: All ages 12 and up. The 12-18 can only get the Pfizer vaccine. Use to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can get the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment.
  • The Southwest Utah Health Department and most pharmacies and stores offer appointments to visit.
  • Must wear a short-sleeved shirt to the appointment and should have ID.
  • Vaccinations are free.
  • For free ride to and from a vaccination appointment through Lyft, call 211.

Washington District:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George Office, 620 S. 400 East, St. George

For hours and more information: click here

Iron District:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City Office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: click here

Kane County:

Where: Kanab Office of the Department of Health in Southwest Utah, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: click here

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Department of Health Panguitch Office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: click here

Beaver County:

Where: Beaver Office Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Jan.5 1175 North, Biber.

For hours and more information: click here

St. George Regional Hospital / Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital, 544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click here to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Different locations.

For hours and more information :: click here

Honor health:

Where: Revere Health Campus, 2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Click here to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr. in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click here to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click here to register

Lin’s marketplace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Boulevard. and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane, and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click here to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click here to register


Where: 275 S River Road. in St. Georg.

Reservations: walk-ins possible. Otherwise, click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. In St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane, and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: walk-ins possible. Otherwise, click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Multiple locations

Reservations: Use to find a location near you

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure that the information in this story is accurate at the time of its preparation. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus evolve, it is possible that some data has changed.

See the following resources for the latest information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Chris Reed is the weekend editor and reporter for St. George News. After growing up among the Valley Girls in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, he steadily moved east. He graduated from Cal State Northridge before spending a decade in Las Vegas. As a sports reporter and editor, he once compared shoe sizes with Shaq. As a news reporter and editor, he has covered parades, triumphs and tragedies. He also got close to the stars once when he was promoting a space module builder. He came to St. George out of love and loved the community. He is the proud father of two boys; his youngest is a master against autism and type 1 diabetes.

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