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Health care rationing coming amid soaring COVID-19 cases, says Utah Hospital Association

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As Utah daily coronavirus cases continue to shoot higher, the Utah Hospital Association is warning care rationing is likely just days away at Wasatch Front hospitals, meaning medical teams would start deciding who does---and who does not---get the highest level of treatment. (Photo: KUTV)

As Utah's daily coronavirus cases continue to shoot higher, the Utah Hospital Association is warning care rationing is likely just days away at Wasatch Front hospitals, meaning medical teams would start deciding who does---and who does not---get the highest level of treatment.

“It’s a complex way of taking account of every patient’s situation, age, health, and the ability to survive,” said Greg Bell, former Lt. Governor and now president of the hospital association. “It’s a system of grading patients, or triaging or rationing care.”

In an interview with 2News Sunday night, Bell cited “phenomenal case growth and spread rate” of COVID-19 is the reason for the move, adding nurses and doctors are already stretched thin.

But who would be a candidate for full treatment, and who for something less?

“At the end of the day, some senior person versus some healthy young person probably would not get the nod,” said Bell.

“That, for some people, might be unnerving if not frightening,” 2News noted.

“It should be,” Bell replied. “It should be unnerving. It should be frightening. It’s a shame.”

He said “Crisis Standards of Care for a Pandemic” were approved by Gov. Gary Herbert months ago. Then, as now, coronavirus was deeply concerning, but daily case counts were much lower.

State officials have stated the current trajectory is not an option; they retooled Utah’s COVID-19 classifications to high, moderate, and low and in much of the state, masks are required in public indoor settings and outside when physical distancing is not possible.

Still, Bell said the mask mandate “has been widely flouted, widely ignored and disobeyed, and intentionally disobeyed.” He said if everyone, or nearly everyone, wore masks and practice physical distancing, “We would cut this thing in half very, very quickly.

“Utahns are better than this,” he continued. “We’re seeing people die who shouldn’t die. We’re seeing people hospitalized with serious illnesses and there are going to be a lot more of them.”