Record editorial: This Halloween, the accelerating pandemic is the horror show
As October comes to a close, the thing keeping health experts awake at night is not the ghosts, ghouls and goblins that will be on the prowl Saturday. More frightening than a monster or any Halloween spook a horror movie director could conjure up is the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah.
With cases rising like never before, pushing hospitals to capacity even before the winter sets in, the health crisis here has never looked so grim. It’s a time for Summit County residents — and all Utahns — to recommit to taking every possible measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus as we enter a period that health officials expect to be among the most daunting of the pandemic.
The numbers say it all. We are several weeks into the largest statewide surge in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. On Sunday, the rolling seven-day average of new cases reached 1,494, more than double the previous peak in July, and there were more than 27,000 active cases, an all-time high that means Utahns have never been more likely to come into contact with an infected person.
What’s more, the sheer volume of cases has put into doubt whether people who get sick in the coming weeks will be able to get adequate medical care. The state’s health care facilities are becoming overwhelmed, and now officials are warning that hospitals may soon need to ration care. In that nightmarish scenario, which would require approval from the governor, doctors would weigh factors like age and case severity in determining which patients receive aid in the intensive-care unit — and which do not.
Lest any Summit County resident mistakenly assume the problem is confined to the other side of the Wasatch Range, know that the situation in our community mirrors what’s happening in the rest of the state. The county is experiencing case growth that surpasses even the peak in the first weeks of the crisis, before the stay-at-home order stemmed the virus in the spring.
There’s a reason we are one of 21 counties designated in the “high” transmission level in the state’s COVID-19 classification system. The curve, to put it simply, isn’t flat anymore.
That this is all happening in late October, when cold-and-flu season has barely begun, is all the more concerning. It leaves us to wonder where we’ll be in December, January or February if we don’t regain control of the virus soon.
The good news is this: Unlike the protagonist in a horror movie, whose fate is determined by the writer’s pen, we collectively control our destiny.
Let’s ramp up our vigilance once again. Wear a mask, social distance, remain at home as much as possible. In Summit County, if we can’t slow the spread of COVID-19 during the shoulder season, what chance do we have when skiers start arriving?
Time is of the essence. Unless we rein in the virus now, we and the rest of Utah will be in for a harrowing winter, a fright fest that will be all too real.
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