OGDEN – With a major drop in COVID-19 cases in Weber and Morgan counties for November, one would think that efforts to bring the virus under control may have reached a turning point.
Yes, the number of new COVID-19 cases for November totaled 3,797, down from 4,306 in October and much lower than last year’s figure of 6,075. That marks a remarkable shift from last summer’s trend to a month-to-month rise in the number of cases, perhaps suggesting that the tide was turning in the fight against the virus.
Sadly, it won’t be, not yet anyway.
“We went down slightly, but that trend is reversing,” said Zach Heuscher, a COVID-19 epidemiologist for the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
That is, the big drop in cases for November in Weber and Morgan counties has been met by a spike in cases in the early days of December, he said. The seven-day daily average number of new cases as of Nov. 30 was 78, he said, but now it’s increased to 104.
“We’re also seeing an increase in the number of patients in ICUs,” or hospital intensive care units, he said. Weber County is responsible for the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases in the two-county Weber-Morgan Health Department region, more than 95% of them.
At the same time, a month of change is probably not enough to indicate a trend. “COVID-19 is too new to expect year-to-year patterns. The big difference is that this year we have a vaccine to help us, which we didn’t have in November 2020,” said Brian Cowan, director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
In light of the numbers for early December, Huescher is doubling down on calls for those who have not yet done so to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those 18 and older who have already been vaccinated, he said, should get the booster shot.
He offered room for optimism. “Every day more people” — about 200 or so in Weber and Morgan counties — “are making that decision to get the first dose,” Huescher said.
However, more people need to get the vaccine, especially those aged 19 to 39. Their vaccination rates are not high enough to significantly reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, he said, and they are among the main groups believed to be spreading the virus.
Age distributions in Weber-Morgan Health Department’s online figures show that those in the 25-44 age group are responsible for the majority of COVID-19 cases in Weber County, 17,423 of the 47,080 counted as of March 2020. Those in the 45-64 age group account for the second largest share, 10,501.
SOME COVID-19 FIGURES
Huescher did not offer a clear vision of what to expect in the COVID-19 trajectory in December and beyond. Numerous factors come into play and now there is the ommicron variant to blur the image. Most cases in Utah are still caused by the delta variant.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers leading to where we are:
- The monthly number of COVID-19 cases in Weber and Morgan counties from June to October had risen steadily, and the numbers were even higher each month than the corresponding month a year earlier. For example, the number for September was 3,880, up from 1,166 a year earlier, while the figure for October was 4,306, up from 2,930 in October 2020.
- November’s drop to 3,797 cases, lower than both the October figure and the November 2020 total of 6,075, marked a break from that trend.
- In the two counties, 53.4% of people are fully vaccinated, compared with 57.6% in Davis County, 62% in Salt Lake County and 49.6% in Utah County, according to Utah Department of Health figures.
- Of the 5-11 year olds who received the vaccine in early November, 16.2% in Weber and Morgan counties received at least one of two doses of COVID-19, compared to 26.8% in Davis County, 26 .6% in Salt Lake County and 16.9% in Utah County.
- Of the 12-17 year olds who were able to receive the vaccine in May last year, 50.7% have been fully vaccinated in Weber and Morgan counties, compared with 64.3% in Davis County, 62.6% in Salt Lake County and 43.9% in Utah County.