UPDATED: St. George hospital head doctor discusses COVID-19 treatments, mandates

Stock photo.| Photo by eggeeggjiew/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The head doctor of St. George Regional Hospital said this week that the answer to getting Southern Utahns on board with ending the pandemic isn’t mandates as much as educating residents on the truth about the COVID-19 vaccine.

File photo of Dr. Patrick Carroll, St. George Regional Hospital medical director, at the groundbreaking of the Hurricane Campus of St. George Regional Hospital on June 16, 2021 Hurricane, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Besides the preventative effects of the vaccine, Dr. Patrick Carroll, the hospital’s medical director, said getting monoclonal antibodies into your system as quickly as possible after symptoms or a positive test can help prevent hospitalization or death. Currently more than 60 Southern Utahns are hospitalized with the virus, and 29 have died of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

As of Thursday, there were more than 2,500 people in Southern Utah presently infected with COVID-19. While some are asymptomatic cases, medical experts and those who have had symptoms can attest that even if someone is not necessarily in the hospital, it can feel like one of the worst illnesses they have ever had. 

Although breakthrough cases for the vaccinated have been shown to be rare and the symptoms less severe, they are still  happening, and Carroll called monoclonal antibody therapy “one of the most effective treatments” for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“That’s one of the best things that can be done,” he said.

Undated illustration shows how monochlonal antibodies bind to the virus that causes COVID-19, keeping it from infecting cells | Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Per the Federal Drug Administration, monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a lab that mimic other antibodies. They attach to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and then block the virus from attaching to human cells. 


Carroll said if a person suspects they have COVID-19 to first get tested. They should then consult with their doctor right away and arrange for the antibody treatment if it’s determined to be necessary.

Carroll said earlier in the week that St. George Regional Hospital would  be working with the Utah Department of Health to set up an antibody distribution tent to quickly provide the treatment to infected individuals. However, hospital spokesperson Terri Draper told St. George News on Thursday evening that for now, those plans have been halted because of logistics.

Vaccination mandates

While there are not any governmental vaccine mandates in effect at this point, the White House announced last week that the U.S. Labor Department will be requiring all businesses with 100 employees or more to have every employee vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. 

When it comes to mandates, Carroll said they can only go so far in being effective.

“A mandate is only as effective as people willing to follow the mandate. What we see in Southern Utah are people unwilling to follow a mandate,” he said. “What we can do is educate people to help them see it is the right thing to do.”

Carroll’s message echoes that of Cedar City resident Kerry Gunter, who nearly died a month ago of COVID-19 and told St. George News it was talking with his doctor that convinced him to get vaccinated, rather than what he said was “shaming” to get the vaccine. Though in Gunter’s case, he contracted the virus before he had a chance to get the vaccine and ended up in St. George Regional’s intensive care unit. 

Carroll strongly recommends that any person consult with their doctor before deciding not to get the vaccine, especially when that decision may result in hospitalization, where their risk of death, according to the Utah Department of Health, would be 5.3 times that of a vaccinated person hospitalized with COVID-19.

A graphic shows the number of patients with COVID-19 in St. George Regional Hospital on Sept. 10, 2021, with dark blue circles representing the patients who were not vaccinated | Photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News | Click to enlarge

If people are going to educate themselves online, Carroll recommends leaning on large-sample studies from university or major medical association sources.

“Looking at .edu and .gov sites is more reliable,” he said. 

Carroll said one thing for sure is that no one has died locally because of a side effect from getting the vaccine. 

“I want to be very clear: The vaccine is safe,” he said. “There are some side effects where someone will have a fever after, but I’m unaware of any patient that has died from a vaccine complication at St. George Regional Hospital.”

‘Those patients haven’t survived’

Carroll said in the last week, the capacity issues at St. George Regional Hospital, which has seen the highest number of COVID-19 patients of the pandemic, have lessened – down from 71 last week to 64 Southern Utahns on Thursday hospitalized for COVID-19 according to the Utah Department of Health.

Nurses and doctors attend to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator at a Utah hospital in an updated photo | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

But Carroll said it isn’t because fewer people are coming into the hospital but rather the result of people dying. 

“One of the reasons we’ve seen a decrease is those patients haven’t survived,” Carroll said. “It takes a little of the air out of the sails for the decrease in hospitalizations.”

Of the 335 people in Southern Utah who have died since the start of the pandemic, approximately 9% have been in the last two weeks. There were 14 locals who died of COVID-19 in the last seven days and 15 the week before. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 has now killed 1 out of every 500 Americans since the pandemic began 19 months ago.

The hospital’s intensive care unit has remained full beyond capacity for about a month, Carroll said, and elective surgeries at the St. George hospital that require a post-surgery hospitalization have been postponed. 

Carroll said the hospital also reached a point this week where it doesn’t have room for transfers from hospitals outside Southern Utah.

“We’ve never had to do that in the history of the hospital,” he said. 

It’s also getting to the point that St. George’s hospital can’t rely on Southern Utah’s other hospitals to take some of its load. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all of the region’s five hospitals were beyond 60% capacity as of Tuesday, with the exception of Cedar City Hospital, which was at 58%. 

Ed. note: An earlier headline of this story said that the hospital would be setting up antibody monoclonal treatment tents, which is no longer happening, according to information told to St. George News on Thursday evening.

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of Thursday,  according to Utah Department of Health)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 36,289 (7-day average of 139.43 per day, up 6.4% in last week)

Active cases: 2,501 (rising)

  • Washington County (High in Transmission Index): 683.86 per 100K rate in 14 days, rising
  • Iron County (High): 999.29, rising
  • Kane County (High): 646.72, rising
  • Garfield County (High): 395.96 rising
  • Beaver County (High): 581.22 rising

Hospitalized: 64 (falling)

Deaths: 335 (14 since Sept. 9)

New infections per day in Southern Utah:

  • Friday (Sept. 10): 143
  • Saturday (Sept. 11): 177
  • Sunday (Sept. 12): 120
  • Monday (Sept. 13): 108
  • Tuesday (Sept. 14): 130
  • Wednesday (Sept. 15): 126
  • Thursday (Sept. 16): 172

Current Utah seven-day average: 1,675 (rising)

Fully vaccinated in  Southern Utah: 102,662 (40.7% fully vaccinated, +0.7%)

  • St. George: 44.6% fully vaccinated (+0.9%) 
  • Cedar City: 35.5% (+0.84%)
  • Washington City: 40.8% (+0.86%)
  • Ivins/Santa Clara: 47.84% (+0.7%)
  • Hurricane/LaVerkin: 34.18% (+0.51%)
  • Enterprise/Veyo/Springdale/Hildale: 39.58%   (+0.54%)
  • Beaver/Garfield/Kane counties: 39.07% (+0.76%)

Southern Utah schools active COVID-19 infections (as of Thursday, according to Utah Department of Health)

NOTE: Utah Department of Health currently providing only ranges of the number of infections in each district, rather than exact figures. Figures may be an overall undercount as not all infections among students are reported to the state.

    • Washington County School District: 36 to 129 (rising since Sept. 9)
    • Iron County School District: 35 to 65 (falling)
    • Kane County School District: 4-16 (rising)
    • Garfield County School District: 1-4 (rising)
    • Beaver County School District: 0 (steady)
    • Southwest Utah Charter Schools: 4-16 (falling)
    • Southwest Utah Private Schools: 1-4 (steady)

Schools in yellow (In danger of moving to test-to-stay): None
Schools in red (Students/staff must test negative to attend): None
Top 5 schools: Cedar High (Iron) 10 active infections, Canyon View High (Iron) 8, Canyon View Middle (Iron) 7,  LaVerkin School (Washington) 5, several others with 1-4

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 12 and over. Those 12-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use vaccinefinder.org to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Those who can receive a booster dose: Those who received Pfizer or Moderna previously and are immunocompromised.
  • The Southwest Utah Public Health Department and most pharmacies and stores are offering walk-up appointments.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

For hours and more information: Click here 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

For hours and more information: Click here 

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

For hours and more information:: Click here

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketpace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd.  and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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