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Gov. Cox: 89% of Utah’s long term care residents vaccinated, more doses on the way

Gov. Spencer Cox provides an update on the state's COVID-19 response.

SALT LAKE CITY– With Utah’s uptick in vaccine doses, state and national leaders say everyone, including Utahns over the age of 18 without comorbidities, may be able to get the vaccine sooner than expected.

Governor Spencer Cox started his weekly COVID-19 briefing by acknowledging the Utahns who have lost their lives to COVID-19. “We have lost far too many lives,” said Cox while giving tribute to all the frontline workers who have been working throughout the pandemic. 

So far, 1,774 Utahns have died from COVID-19 complications, including nine reported deaths Thursday. However, Cox said things are looking up. 

He attributed Utah’s declining coronavirus cases to the rapid testing efforts by the state. Along with increased testing, Cox said it’s “making our contact tracing more effective.”

Additionally, Cox said Utah is expected to receive 4,200 extra doses a week from the federal government. As of Thursday, 462,720 vaccine doses have been administered.  

89% of Utah’s long term care residents are vaccinated 

Cox reported about 40% of coronavirus deaths in Utah were long-term care facility residents, but the good news is 89% of those Utahns have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. Cox said the vaccine administration in long-term care facilities is driving down the state’s hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths. 

Furthermore, Cox said Utah has vaccinated about 49% of residents 70 and over. While the state is still prioritizing that section of the population, he said if efforts continue on this trajectory, everyday Utahns will be able to get the vaccine in April or May. 

“If everything goes right and as planned, we could get a vaccine to everyone who wants one,” said Cox. He prefaced the announcement by stating it comes with a lot of planning to coordination.  

Cox also addressed people not showing up to their scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment. “We try and over schedule a little bit because we know people will not show up,” said Cox. But he said the state is confident “the local health departments are not letting these vaccines go unused.”

He encouraged Utahns to call and cancel their appointment if they cannot make it so someone else can get their dose. Additionally, he told those who have missed their second dose appointment to reschedule as soon as possible so they can secure their immunity to the virus. 

A call for vaccine volunteers

As more vaccines make their way to Utah, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson announced the state is calling for volunteers to help administer the vaccine and monitor those after they get their shot.

There are some requirements for volunteers, but Henderson said the effort is open to all medical licensed professionals and those who are not. Henderson is asking for people who can commit to a four-hour shift. 

For a full list of those who can administer the vaccine to residents, click the tweet below: 

 

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, visit here

Double up on masks

Even as Utah’s coronavirus numbers trickle down, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn is advocating Utahns wear two masks when applicable to help protect against COVID-19 variants. 

If your mask is one layer, like a genetic blue disposable mask, “wear two single layer masks,” said Dr. Dunn. Despite most masks have multiple layers, Dr. Dunn said double masking results in 95% of the droplets caught, which is “huge” protection. 

Ultimately, Dr. Dunn is still advising all Utahns to continue following COVID-19 regulations, such as wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings to keep cases low. 

On Thursday, the state reported 1,242 new cases with a 14.8% “people over people” positivity rate. The 7-day rolling average of positive cases is 1,049 per day. Currently, 327 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 128 people admitted into an intensive care unit. The total number of hospitalizations from the beginning of the outbreak is 14,054.