Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Lieutenant Governor Tours St. George ICU, Says It Was ‘Heartbreaking’ But ‘Entirely Preventable’

A photo of Deidre Henderson at a podium.
Lexi Peery
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson toured the ICU at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital on Friday. Hospital officials say an “overwhelming majority” of patients there are unvaccinated.

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson toured Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital’s ICU Friday afternoon, where a majority of the patients she saw were unvaccinated.

“What we saw today was powerful, was heartbreaking and entirely preventable,” Henderson said after her visit. “We have a hospital full of COVID patients who don't need to be there.”

Hospitals across the state are exceeding capacity. In St. George, Medical Director Patrick Carroll said the ICU is over 140% full. He added it’s been over capacity for the past two weeks.

At the same time, less than 40% of southwest Utah residents are fully vaccinated, which is below the state’s level of 61%, according to state health data.

Henderson said what she and Gov. Spencer Cox have done in encouraging vaccinations is “as effective as it’s going to be.” Now, she said, it’s up to local health care providers.

“We need you,” she pleaded. “We need you to reach out to your patients. We need you to encourage them to be vaccinated. We need you to talk to them individually when they come into your clinics about how important it is to get vaccinated.”

Henderson was joined by local legislators and leaders on her hospital tour. Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist said the commission won’t mandate anything, but people should get vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do.

“I'm very conservative and I'm very independent and I don't like people telling me what to do,” Almquist said, “but at the same time, I don't see any harm. I don't see me losing my independence or losing my conservatism by having already received a vaccination.”

Carroll said there have been around 160 people to die from COVID-19 at St. George's hospital since the beginning of the year — the overwhelming majority of them were unvaccinated.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.