COVID-19 is rising again in Utah, and health experts are asking the public to get vaccinated and take appropriate precautions.
Over the past seven days, the Utah Department of Health has reported 4,504 new COVID-19 cases, four new deaths and 118 hospitalizations, with 18 of these patients in intensive care units. Doctors expect these numbers to continue to rise over the next few weeks.
“I’m not surprised by today’s numbers and I think it’s a significant number below the counter,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, Infection Physician at Intermountain Healthcare, Thursday. “Do we need to shut down? No. Absolutely not, but do we need a strategy in place? Absolutely.”
Webb said that while everyone experiences COVID fatigue, the virus does not go away, so everyone has to look at their own risk and the risk to those around them when it comes to prevention.
“COVID has come to stay, so we need to learn to navigate this new environment,” he said. “We see several cases that are mild, but we still see serious illness and that is a big focus. Risk has to do with immunity in general, and vaccination remains a critical part. “
The increase is caused by omicron subvariant strains such as BA.2.12.1, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, Infection Physician at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. Although highly transmissible, the vaccine has still been shown to be very effective in reducing serious illness, hospitalization and death. Because the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time, health experts say it is important to get a third shot.
“Our hospitals are pretty crowded with patients running on the mill and we are still experiencing huge staff shortages at all of our hospitals,” Pavia said.
Pavia said there has not been enough experience with these new variants to say how different they are clinically. Unfortunately, he said, they are capable of infecting people who have had previous infections.
“If you have been given three doses of vaccine or two doses and infection, you are pretty well protected. Others, not so much. And if six months have passed since your last vaccine, the protection is not so good anymore,” he said.
Pavia said COVID is also rising in children right now, though hospital admissions are not – yet.
“COVID in children is fivefold from where it was in early April,” he said. “We also see prolonged COVID in children and it can sometimes occur in children who have had very mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. It can be life-changing and disabling. We have to really think about this huge burden of children and also adults who change their lives for months on end. “
While some people are still skeptical about getting the vaccine or not worried about getting sick, Webb and Pavia said it might not be a big deal before it lands on your doorstep.
“It’s a big deal for someone in the intensive care unit,” Webb said. “It’s a big deal for someone whose life has been significantly affected by prolonged COVID. Even though we’re tired of COVID, we do not stick our heads in the sand. We need to make sure we protect those who are most vulnerable. . “
“We’ve had a million Americans dead. It’s more than all the wars fought together,” he said. “It might not seem like a big deal if it has not landed on your front door. affected by it, think of your neighbors, communities and congregations. ”
Both doctors said that for those who work around the elderly or live with someone who is too young to be vaccinated or someone who is immunocompromised, they are still encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing.