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'Here we go again,' Salt Lake County reaches high risk COVID-19 transmission

Posted at 9:11 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 00:21:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed five Utah counties at high-risk for COVID-19: Grand, San Juan, Summit, Tooele, and Salt Lake counties.

“I saw ‘high’ and you just this exhausted feeling of ‘here we go again,’” said Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Dunn said hospitals in Utah have been “stable” until this week. The state dashboard reports a 27.3% increase in the seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and a 35.3% jump in seven-day average cases in the ICU.

“The silver lining in this increase is that it’s definitely not as steep,” she said. “It’s happening at a slower pace.”

Dunn said the increase in cases could be from new Omicron subvariants and vaccination/booster shot immunity wearing off.

“We’re starting to see that increase and with that, an increase in positivity,” said Dunn. “So we’re now seeing 25% to 30% positivity.”

She also added that there’s been an increase in the demand for testing, but nothing compared to what TestUtah lines saw in January and February.

Data analysts say not enough symptomatic people are visiting test sites, or they test positive with an at-home kit and don’t report it.

“Our case counts are coming up, but I think there’s probably a lot more cases out there than our case counts reflect,” said Erin Clouse.

Clouse is the director of strategy and alignment for the University of Utah Medical Group. She tracks trends and data and helps local health systems.

She said current positivity rates mirror similar peaks seen in early 2021 and beyond.

“The people-over-people method is up 625% since April 2,” she explained. “The testing-over-testing method is up 850%.”

The uptick in numbers comes as the county preps for more vaccines to come in Monday. Now that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommend by the FDA for everyone six months and older, Dunn said the rollout starts Tuesday.

“It’s an opportunity for the youngest among us to be even more protected throughout the summer,” she said.