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Health experts: Elderly still at higher risk, so opt for virtual holidays

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — With the winter season approaching, health officials acknowledge grandparents look forward to seeing their loved ones over the holidays. However, experts are encouraging elderly Utahns to opt for virtual holiday celebrations. 

“Are we able to video-open the gifts? Can I take you on the tour of my house?” suggested Kathie Supiano, director of Caring Connections for the University of Utah’s College of Nursing.

Although there’s a vaccine on the way, health officials are urging Utahns not to let their guards down. Elderly folks are still at high risk as they are more vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. 

Virtual holiday celebrations could protect the elderly

Even when the vaccine starts to roll out, Utahns need to be on alert, according to experts. 

“It won’t be until 60%, 70%, 80% of the population is vaccinated and protected that we will begin to think about letting that guard down,” said Mark Supiano, a physician with the University of Utah Health Geriatrics. 

This comes as Utah continues its spike in COVID-19 cases, reporting an increase of 3,005 cases Friday. The state also reported eight more people died of the virus, bringing the total to 925. 


Of those who died, three were older than 85 years old and three were between the ages of 65 and 84 — impacting the elderly population in Utah. 

Vaccines are expected to begin rolling out in Utah mid-December, with initial doses being distributed to five Utah hospitals. Healthcare workers in high-risk environments will be the first to receive the vaccine. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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