SALT LAKE CITY — Local leaders met Thursday to discuss the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases. They expressed alarm and encouraged those who haven't to get vaccinated.
Data released Wednesday showed there were nearly 900 new cases reported, which prompted Salt Lake County officials to hold Thursday's news news conference.
With case numbers on the rise along with hospitalizations and deaths, county health officials are now calling this a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
The number of Utah COVID cases is up 20% over the past week and the overwhelming majority of those are among younger and middle aged adults who have not been vaccinated, officials said.
The main culprit is the delta variant of COVID-19.
“Viruses mutate, they do this in order to survive. Every unvaccinated person is an opportunity for the Covid virus to mutate and get stronger," said Dr. Angela Dunn.
Officials stressed that the numbers are much better than they were when cases were raging in 2020, thanks to plenty of effective vaccine available and an established system in place to distribute shots which are free.
“What do chair Steve DeVry, executive Director Angela Dunn, Mayor Jenny Wilson and Sean Hannity have in common? We all want you to get vaccinated!” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.
With school fast approaching, health officials said it’s time for those who have been wavering to get the jab.
“We need to surround our kids with vaccinated adults," said Dr. Angela Dunn, Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department. "This will keep them safer, it will allow them to go to in-person school, engage in extracurricular activities with a lower risk of getting COVID.”
After moving from the state health department to her new position as executive director of Salt Lake County Health, Dr. Dunn admits that it’s a little like Groundhog Day having a press event like this all over again.
“However, I will tell you what is so much better about right now versus last summer is that we’ve got effective vaccines!" Dr. Dunn said. "We have really amazing vaccines that are effective not only against the original strain but against the Delta variant that is surging right now!”
When asked several times about the possibility of mandating school children to wear masks, Dr. Dunn said all health officials can do is recommend…because state legislators made it law they will not allow mask mandates in Utah public schools.