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ST. GEORGE — The medical director of St. George Regional Hospital said Thursday that the hospital and its intensive care unit are nearing capacity as the governor and health officials said the same day that the state is experiencing a new surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Dr. Patrick Carroll said the hospital is "very close" to being full again, and there is the possibility within the next few weeks that like the worst days of the pandemic, the ICU will need to be expanded into a surge ICU to accommodate more patients.
"We still have the ability to surge out of our normal ICU space," Carroll told St. George News. "Could that happen? Yes. Are we close to it? Yes. But it has not happened yet."
Southern Utah, in particular, is currently seeing infection and hospitalization numbers higher now than they were at this time a year ago during the midst of lockdowns and the pandemic.
On July 1 of 2020, according to the Utah Department of Health, there were 34 new infections of COVID-19 in Southern Utah and 15 locals hospitalized with the virus.
On Thursday, there are 41 new infections locally and 29 locals hospitalized with the virus.
But health officials and the governor agree that there is a big difference between COVID-19 now versus COVID-19 a year ago: They say the current infections and hospitalizations are all avoidable with the vaccine readily available.