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Vaccine's arrival doesn't mean pandemic is over, Utah doctors remind public

Posted at 4:36 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 19:24:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY — With the highly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine in Utah, public health officials warn that now is not the time to let down our guard.

“Think of this vaccine as the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is still quite long,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, Intermountain Health infectious disease physician.

On Monday, intensive care unites in the state’s largest hospitals struggle at nearly 102 percent capacity. The rolling 7-day average shows 16 people are dying each day in Utah, according to data compiled by FOX 13 News.

“More deaths will come. More deaths will follow, but we come to you with optimism and hope,“ said Dr. Stenehjem.

While the overall number of COVID-19 cases improve, transmission rates continue to stay extremely high. It’s not the time to drop our defenses, epidemiologists warn.

“We’ve got a waiting game here, and honestly, it will be into the spring or early summer. We have a long haul ahead of us yet,” said Salt Lake County epidemiologist Annie George.

Upcoming holidays particularly concern public health experts, who said it is as important as ever to limit celebrations to only those you live with.

“We need people to be smart about the actions that they are taking around the holidays to keep the spread as low as we can,” George said.