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Amid Utah’s COVID-19 surge, conspiracy theorists who don’t believe the increase in cases tried to enter a Utah ICU

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Conspiracy theorists have been attempting to sneak into the ICU at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah, according to local news station KSL.

At a Provo City Council meeting last week, Utah Valley Hospital administrator Kyle Hansen was providing an update on the hospital’s COVID-19 response and said that roughly five people attempted to sneak into the hospital, questioning whether the ICUs were full, KSL reported.

In a statement sent to Business Insider, Intermountain Healthcare, Utah’s largest healthcare system and owner of Utah Valley Hospital, said that a few individuals “have attempted to gain physical access to the facility with the intent try to confirm fake conspiracy theories — such as hospitals are not busy and that reports of the COVID-19 surge are false.”

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KSL also reported that officials confirmed that hospital staff have fielded phone calls from callers pushing conspiracies about the COVID-19 surge and shortage of ICU beds in the state.

“You really can only get in if you’re here for an appointment yourself or you have to be listed in a log that we track as a designated visitor for a patient. But we’ve had some people get pretty creative in how they’ve lied about coming in for an appointment or other things,” Hansen told Provo City Council last week.

Provo police confirmed that since May 2020, there have been eight calls regarding individuals trespassing into the hospital. Police added that those caught could face misdemeanor charges.

Overall, there is a broader pattern of confrontational COVID-19 disinformation, including the #filmyourhospital trend, a web of conspiracies charging that hospitals and state officials are faking COVID-19 admittance rates as part of a hoax.

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Due to Utah’s stressed medical system, Intermountain Healthcare also announced this week that 200 ICU nurses from New York City have flown in to help treat COVID-19 patients. 

Utah is currently experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases as well as hospitalizations. According to the Utah Department of Health, 503 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, which is the state’s all-time high. According to Utah’s COVID-19 dashboard as of Monday, nearly 85% of all ICU beds statewide were in use with roughly half being used by COVID-19 patients. The current positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is about 25%, with an estimated 49,575 active cases across the state.

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According to the statement from Intermountain Healthcare, “although these situations are few and isolated, stopping attempts to gain inappropriate access and responding to fake conspiracy theories diverts attention from providing lifesaving care provided at the hospitals.”  

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