SALT LAKE CITY — The state’s top epidemiologist says “We are certainly moving in the right direction” in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Utah.
The comments from state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn comes as thousands of Utahns begin to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the state increases its testing capacity.
During the governor’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Dunn said the seven day rolling average of cases and the positivity rate have decreased from last week. However, while this is good news, Dunn warned “hospitals are still overwhelmed.” She encouraged residents to continue wearing masks and following physical distancing guidelines.
Dunn attributed the fall in positive cases to the vaccine and rapid testing in hard-hit communities. She said over the last week, Utah tested over 13,000 individuals. Additionally, since COVID-19 test production has ramped up. Dunn said anyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get one.
“The [COVID-19 testing] effort has decreased spread, prevented outbreaks, and made communities safer,” said Dunn.
COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Gov. Spencer Cox said within the last week, Utah has doubled the number of vaccines distributed. So far, more than 133,000 Utahns have received their first vaccination dose.
Recently, Utah educators and residents over 70 years old were eligible to get the vaccine, and since then, Cox said “tens of thousands of teachers have already received the vaccine.”
However, despite federal recommendations, Cox said residents over the age of 65 will not be able to get the vaccine right now due to limited supply.
“We don’t have enough vaccines in the state just yet,” said Cox. “As soon as more vaccines are available, we will open the vaccines to people 65 and older.”
He also said that based on state data, the two groups with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate are residents 70 and over, and those in long term care facilities.
Cox mentioned he “fully anticipates” residents over the age of 65 and those with co-morbidities will be eligible for the vaccine in February.
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.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707