Utah is currently in a “good place” in the fight against COVID-19, an infectious disease doctor told Intermountain Healthcare on Friday, as the Utah Department of Health announced another 422 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths from virus.
“It’s time to be optimistic,” Dr. Eddie Steneham told reporters during a virtual press conference from the region’s largest healthcare provider. Stenehjem said that although there are still many sick patients hospitalized with the deadly virus, the number of cases, positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths is declining.
At the same time, the doctor said, more and more Utahs are being vaccinated against COVID-1
As of Friday, a total of 1,450,263 doses of vaccine were administered to Yutas, an increase of 40,049 daily, the health department said. Almost 522,000 jutes have now been fully vaccinated, which means that at least two weeks have passed since their last dose.
“This is a good place for us right now, here in Utah,” Steneham said, given that the number of cases is accelerating in about 30 states, including Michigan. “We’re not out of the woods in any way, but man, we’re in a much better place now than we were three months ago.”
While spring break activities could trigger a new surge of COVID-19 if parties do not wear masks and social distancing, especially as more contagious variants of the virus continue to appear across the country, he said the increase in cases could looks very different from after the winter holidays.
About 80 percent of jute in their 70s or older has been vaccinated, the doctor said, “so even if we notice this growth, we can see that it is blunted in terms of hospitalizations and death,” the doctor said. In addition to protecting vulnerable populations, he said warmer weather means people spend more time outside where transmission is reduced.
Still, Steneham warned, “let’s not leave our guards.” He said Utah still had “quite a bit” of the virus circulating, so the same public health recommendations, including wearing masks, even after the end of the term on April 10, continue to apply. “It’s not gone.”
Even children who play outside should wear masks, Steneham said, if they are close to others and the air is still. Utah’s first childhood death from the virus, reported in March, was a boy from Salt Lake County between the ages of 1 and 14 who was hospitalized at the time of his death.
As vaccinations increase, the doctor said, Utah may “probably have slightly calmer public health measures as we move through the summer.” He said he and his family would continue to wear masks until science “told us it was safe” to give up protection against the virus.
The new law, which ends the mask’s term on April 10, removes other restrictions as soon as the state receives 1.63 million first doses of vaccines if the number of cases and hospitalizations remain low. This is expected to be in mid-May, although the requirements for K-12 masks will remain in force until June.
The latest number of cases has increased the total number of coronavirus cases in Utah since the pandemic began more than a year ago to 386,550. The moving seven-day average for positive tests is now 407 a day, according to the department, with another 5,761 jutes taking the COVID 19 and an additional 14,258 tests conducted as of Thursday.
More than 2.4 million jutes took just under 4.3 million tests, and the current seven-day average for percentage positive tests is 3.4%, when all results are included, the method used by the state to calculate transmission levels , and 6.9% when multiple test results from a person in the last 90 days are excluded.
Currently, 138 are hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19, which increases the total number of hospitalizations in the state to 15,573.
The death toll from coronavirus in Utah was 2,131, with six deaths reported Friday. These deaths, which include four that occurred before March 1, are:
• A woman from Davis County, between 65 and 84 years old, a resident of long-term care.
• A man from Salt Lake County, between 65 and 84 years old, hospitalized.
• A woman from Millard County, between the ages of 65 and 84, hospitalized.
• A man from Weber County, over the age of 85, a resident of long-term care.
• A woman from Salt Lake County, between the ages of 65 and 84, hospitalized.
• A woman from Utah County, over the age of 85, a resident of long-term care.