SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19.
"Despite being fully vaccinated, Attorney General Sean Reyes was surprised to learn he has tested positive for COVID last week. He had been fighting a cold and had tested negative days earlier. He is following all the necessary steps to quarantine from his family and to keep the public safe. His family has all tested negative," his office said in a statement to FOX 13 on Monday morning.
The Republican attorney general is involved in numerous lawsuits challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government, arguing that vaccination should be a personal choice.
His office also is defending the state in a lawsuit over a law the legislature passed, severely restricting local school districts from imposing mask mandates. One of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, the Concerned Coalition of Utah, reacted to the attorney general's diagnosis.
"We are sorry to hear that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has a breakthrough case of COVID-19. This is yet another reminder that the virus can only be contained through a combination of science-based public health policies, strong leadership, and cooperation in our communities," the coalition said in a statement to FOX 13. "We wish Mr. Reyes a speedy and full recovery and hope to work with him and other public officials to slow the spread of this deadly virus."
Reyes is the second high-profile public official on Utah's Capitol Hill to test positive for the virus within the past week. House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, confirmed he had also tested positive.
As of Monday, 586,758 Utahns had tested positive for COVID-19 since beginning of the pandemic last year and 3,442
had died; 1.7 million were considered fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Utah's Department of Health have recommended booster shots to reduce the risk of a breakthrough infection and its severity.
"That immunity, that initial big boost of immunity? Is starting to wane for more mild and moderate disease. We do seem to have more prolonged and sustained immunity to the more severe cases, so these vaccines are still very effective in preventing hospitalizations and death," Dr. Michelle Hofmann, the deputy director of the Utah Department of Health said Monday. "But we’re going to see increasing numbers of breakthrough cases as that immunity wanes."
With the holidays approaching, Dr. Hofmann said UDOH was preparing for another surge as families get together. She urged eligible Utahns to get vaccinated and get booster shots and take precautions at family get-togethers.
"Our vulnerable elderly are the most at risk and all of our family members need to protect them," she said. "Please use caution during gathering for the holidays until they have their booster doses, they are vulnerable and that’s who we’re seeing still in the hospitals today."