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Doctors urge Utahns to consider putting masks back on

FILE -- Gov. Gary Herbert keeps a mask at the ready as he speaks during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY –Some doctors in Utah are suggesting Utahns put the masks back on to slow the spread of COVID-19. The doctors reported COVID-19 rates climbing so quickly masks may be needed until more people get vaccinated. 

Health care officials found Utah’s infection rate similar to last summer, with over 800 new cases being reported Wednesday. Currently, 295 people are hospitalized in Utah and health care workers said they’re starting to feel abandoned because people are treating the pandemic as if it’s over.

Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Disease Doctor Brandon Webb said, “We’re still seeing a significant burden.”

Putting masks back on

Webb believes the only realistic way to significantly bring down COVID-19 cases is to increase vaccination, but the number of people getting vaccinated is plateauing. Without people getting vaccinated, Webb suggested going back to the public health guidelines we used last year. 

“We’re going to have to face the possibility that social restrictions in different venues may be necessary to control the disease and to decrease hospitalizations,” Webb said. 

And, yes, that includes masks.

“We know that they work. They were the tool that allowed Utah schools to stay open all last year,” Webb said.

According to Webb, people can’t depend on natural immunity; which comes after people recover from COVID-19 and the immune system makes antibodies to fight the virus. Natural immunity from the original strain of the virus doesn’t protect against variant strains as well as the vaccines do. 

However, Webb reported breakthrough cases are still a possibility, so even the vaccinated need to protect themselves.

“In those setting, especially in indoor settings where there are more dense crowds and social distancing is not possible, transmission is far more likely,” he said.