Powered by the Delta variant, COVID-19 is rising again in Utah – St George News

Stock Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela courtesy of Pixabay | Photo licensed under CC0, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah hospital leaders renewed their requests for people to get vaccinated on Wednesday as the state sees another spike in new COVID-19 cases from the faster-spreading Delta variant.

A person will receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-through clinic at Intermountain Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in March 2021. Murray, Utah | File photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

The delta variant started rising in Utah last month and now accounts for about 80% of cases in the state, said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Deputy Director of the State Department of Health. Utah has averaged about 386 confirmed cases per day for the past week, almost double the case rate the state had at its lowest point in early June.

The increase occurs mainly in unvaccinated people who are infected and hospitalized at six times the rate of vaccinated people, Hoffman said.

“The frustrating part of all of this is that, unlike last year, we have all the tools we need to stop this pandemic in its tracks,” Hoffman told reporters during a virtual briefing. “The COVID-19 vaccines are working.”

The overwhelming data supports this as a new analysis by the Associated Press based on CDC data found that nationwide, more than 99% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States are unvaccinated.

Dr. David Blodgett, Health Officer for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, emphasizes the importance of COVID vaccination.

“The best way to get out of the hospital and avoid the effects of this disease is to get a vaccination,” said Blodgett. “This vaccine is almost perfect for keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them from dying.”

Utah now ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita, and the moving average daily new cases has increased 31% in the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Hospital leaders say more people need to be vaccinated to avoid hospitals from being overrun again.

Cars lined up with people arriving for their appointments to take a COVID-19 test at the TestUtah site at Dixie Tech in St. George, Utah on December 4, 2020. | File photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The state health department reported Tuesday that 44.2% of Utah’s 3.2 million residents were fully vaccinated and 49.6% had received at least one of two required vaccinations.

“We can stop this surge before it gets any worse,” said Hoffman. “We can help make our health systems work efficiently. But it will require people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so now. “

The challenge now, according to Blodgett, is to battle your way through some of the conflicting and often inaccurate news surrounding COVID-19.

“We love to talk to people about their concerns and have answers to questions about the vaccine on our website,” said Blodgett. “All we can do is continue to be consistent and provide correct information to people. We want to be a trustworthy source of information on this situation. “

Blodgett said it was utterly unfortunate that so much of the information available at the national level had any political implications.

“Our messages are always about how you can take control of your health and your life,” said Blodgett. “Vaccines are about protecting yourself and others … In the realm of the most effective and helpful things in human history, vaccines are one of the most effective measures that can be taken to improve the quality and quantity of life.”

“This is one of the few community activities we can do and benefit everyone,” he said.


HOW TO GET YOUR VACCINE: There are many vaccines available at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department and you don’t have to make an appointment. You can easily walk to most places. Learn more at https://swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine


Case Counts


Written by: SOPHIA EPPOLITO, Associated Press. Cedar City Hospital spokesman BECKI BRONSON contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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