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A mom in Utah had a heart attack. The life-saving care she needed was in short supply because of Covid-19

A woman in Utah was turned away from hospitals while having a heart attack because the hospitals did not have bed space due to Covid-19. CNN's Martin Savidge reports.

Posted: Oct 23, 2020 6:10 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2020 6:10 AM

In the predawn hours of a recent Tuesday morning in a suburban Salt Lake City hospital, Laurie Terry's doctor made a disturbing discovery: Utah's record setting Covid-19 outbreak had become more dangerous than many knew.

The virus now had the ability to potentially kill a patient -- his patient -- even if she wasn't infected.

Hours before, Terry, a 47-year-old mother and wife, had suffered a heart attack in her Herriman, Utah, home. According to her sister, she had to be revived four times in the ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital.

Once there, the medical staff and her doctor quickly determined Terry would likely die if she didn't get the more sophisticated life-saving treatment found in an intensive care unit of a larger hospital.

"He (the doctor) told us right away, we're doing everything we can to try and find a hospital that can take Laurie, and we can't find one," Stephanie Deer, Terry's sister, said.

"If you would have seen the look on that doctor's face, he was incredulous. He couldn't believe he was telling us this."

Deer and her sister are not alone.

The state is experiencing "one of the worst (coronavirus) outbreaks in the country," Utah Gov. Garry Herbert said Tuesday.

As a result, patients suffering other life-threatening medical events -- non-Covid related -- are in a dangerous competition for limited specialized medical care.

Utah is in the middle of the worst period for new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. The state is among the 14 that reported their peak Covid-19 hospitalizations in the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The state's total ICU usage was at almost 70%, Herbert said Tuesday, and almost 16% of the state's ICU beds are used to treat Covid-19 patients.

On Friday, the University of Utah hospital's ICU was at 104% capacity.

Covid surge taking a toll on Utah doctors

Dr. Emily Spivak, among the doctors helping treat Covid patients in Utah, feels frustrated and upset by the surge in cases -- because she said she knows this shouldn't be happening. Coronavirus is preventable by hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing.

She reached her breaking point in a parking lot outside the level one trauma center where she works in Salt Lake City.

"Well, I was trying so hard not to," she said, referring to her tears. "I mean honestly this is just super frustrating."

Spivak said she sees many people in public no longer following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines -- and believes they've just grown complacent.

"I don't see an end. No one's doing anything to stop what's happening," she said. "It's kind of like people just are going out and living their lives not realizing that they are exhausting our health care system."

Deer said she witnessed the frustration of doctors firsthand.

"I watched those nurses call for hours, trying other systems, doing everything they could, I mean desperate." she said.

"I don't know how the doctors and nurses and things are going to be able to keep this up when your whole life, your whole profession is dedicated to saving people's lives and you can't access medical care for a patient."

And she shares health care professionals' frustration.

She and her sister followed every Covid precaution carefully, Deer said. Yet her sister could die as a result of the virus anyway.

She's angered by those who ignore the science.

"They don't understand how precarious their own lives and the lives of everyone they love are ... this could happen to anyone," Deer said. "They need to wear a mask," Deer said. "They need to care about their neighbors, their family, their children and they need to do it right now."

Eventually Terry was able to be transported to a hospital with an opening and the specialized care she needed. But Deer said her condition has grown worse.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 724214

Reported Deaths: 13363
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion989071736
Lake53172962
Allen40223675
Hamilton35354408
St. Joseph35270550
Elkhart28228437
Tippecanoe22297217
Vanderburgh22231396
Porter18560304
Johnson17832376
Hendricks17098313
Clark12897191
Madison12519339
Vigo12379244
Monroe11811168
LaPorte11691210
Delaware10571185
Howard9823215
Kosciusko9347117
Hancock8204139
Bartholomew8036155
Warrick7754155
Floyd7630176
Wayne7002198
Grant6986174
Boone6652101
Morgan6529139
Dubois6139117
Marshall5954111
Dearborn577177
Cass5769105
Henry5671102
Noble555783
Jackson499672
Shelby488196
Lawrence4470120
Gibson433791
Harrison432972
Clinton426353
DeKalb423284
Montgomery423088
Whitley392739
Huntington386380
Steuben381057
Miami379165
Knox370990
Jasper361347
Putnam357760
Wabash352478
Adams340354
Ripley338370
Jefferson328481
White312254
Daviess294399
Wells290281
Decatur282992
Fayette278362
Greene276085
Posey270733
Scott264453
LaGrange263870
Clay258945
Randolph239581
Washington239131
Spencer230431
Jennings228848
Starke213252
Fountain211846
Sullivan210442
Owen195856
Fulton194240
Jay190429
Carroll187820
Perry182537
Orange181854
Rush172625
Vermillion167643
Franklin167235
Tipton161945
Parke145416
Blackford134332
Pike132634
Pulaski115945
Newton106734
Brown101441
Crawford99014
Benton98114
Martin87415
Warren80515
Switzerland7808
Union70610
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1077284

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1251861392
Cuyahoga1110942107
Hamilton796611200
Montgomery511561012
Summit46842933
Lucas41780782
Butler38228580
Stark32099907
Lorain24828480
Warren24214297
Mahoning21403586
Lake20518368
Clermont19704238
Delaware18463131
Licking16373210
Fairfield16083199
Trumbull15966466
Medina15192262
Greene14991244
Clark13927297
Wood13020188
Portage12772201
Allen11564231
Richland11277198
Miami10652215
Muskingum8783132
Wayne8738210
Columbiana8735229
Pickaway8527121
Marion8494135
Tuscarawas8459243
Erie7831154
Hancock6880126
Ross6821152
Ashtabula6756169
Geauga6659148
Scioto6385101
Belmont5828167
Union569347
Lawrence5536102
Jefferson5481151
Huron5409119
Darke5333122
Sandusky5316120
Seneca5248121
Athens518058
Washington5137109
Auglaize487084
Mercer479085
Shelby466893
Knox4472110
Madison434761
Putnam4260100
Ashland420989
Fulton419869
Defiance416597
Crawford3954106
Brown391857
Logan380676
Preble378298
Clinton369861
Ottawa365779
Highland352761
Williams337075
Champaign329258
Guernsey314453
Jackson311651
Perry294250
Morrow283639
Fayette280649
Hardin269864
Henry267766
Coshocton263858
Holmes2587101
Van Wert242463
Pike237233
Adams235852
Gallia235148
Wyandot230654
Hocking214662
Carroll190947
Paulding171140
Meigs144339
Noble133437
Monroe130642
Morgan108223
Harrison107337
Vinton82015
Unassigned02
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Shower and thunderstorm chances increase Thursday afternoon.
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