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Dr. Dunn: No Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases as expected

Local doctors say COVID-19 vaccines may utilize some new technologies, but overall, they're looking to achieve the same end goal of any other immunization. (IMAGE: KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY– During a KSL NewsRadio town hall with state and health care leaders discussing Utah’s plan to effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Utah did not experience the expected surge in COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving holiday. 

“What’s really exciting is we didn’t experience the surge [in COVID-19 cases] we were all predicting after Thanksgiving,” she said. “We were expecting to be in the 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 case range, and we’re in the 2,000s.” 

She gave credit to Utahns for doing their part to limit the spread of the virus leading up to Thanksgiving. “It shows people were adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing during Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Dunn. 

While she said that was fantastic news, she noted the use of masks and physical distancing is something that needs to continue throughout the Christmas holiday to keep case counts and hospitalizations under control. 

Governor-Elect and current Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox echoed Dr. Dunn’s message during the townhall. 

He said he celebrated Thanksgiving apart from his mother and father, even though they only live a few yards away. Cox says their family made that decision because his father is high risk. 

Cox congratulated Utahns for doing the same thing his family did over the holiday, which he argues helped keep a lid on COVID-19 cases. 

“We’ve now seen the numbers coming after Thanksgiving,” Cox said. “We did have a bounce, but it wasn’t nearly as significant as bounces that we’ve had before. And that’s because people were so careful.”

The Vaccines

The approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is only a short wait away, according to Dr. Dunn. On Thursday, December 10, Utah is expected to hear from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on whether it has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

Dr. Dunn said as soon as the FDA grants authorization, the vaccines could be shipped out. That could come as soon as Monday. Utah will receive a limited supply of doses so “it’s really important to prioritize those who are most likely to come into contact with COVID or develop severe disease from COVID,” Dunn explained.

The vaccine will first go to long-term care facility residents and its staff members before being distributed to frontline health care workers. 

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).
  • Obtain 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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