SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 1, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox gave a monthly briefing Thursday as COVID-19 cases rise again in Utah.
“We are seeing an uptick, as you have noticed,” Cox said. “Not only in case counts but in hospitalizations. Yesterday we had 547 cases reported which is the highest case count we have seen since March 4. We are also starting to get a little uncomfortable in our hospitals again. I want to mention today that we now have 257 people in the hospital with COVID; the last time we were that high was February 19. Keep in mind that on the last day of May there were only 130 people in the hospital so we’ve seen a significant increase in hospitalizations as well.”
Cox said he hopes people will pay close attention to these numbers and get vaccinated if they have not done so.
“The difference between now, of course, and the conversations we were having in December and January and February is that we didn’t have a miracle vaccination that could keep you from being hospitalized and dying and getting COVID. It’s one thing to take those warnings when the only things we could do was to wear masks or to stay physically distant from each other. Now we don’t have to do any of those things if you just get vaccinated.”
Cox said Thursday that between May 1 and June 25, 93% of people hospitalized for COVID in Utah were unvaccinated. In addition, 95% of deaths in that time period were of unvaccinated people.
“I can’t tell you how demoralizing it is for our frontline healthcare workers, and for families, for everyone, for me, when we continually hear from families who thought, ah, we don’t need this vaccine, who believe some kind of crazy conspiracy theories about the vaccine, and who have not gotten vaccinated, who are now dead, or are now hospitalized, or who have long-term effects as COVID long-haulers,” Cox said.
He added that it is easier than ever to get a vaccine.
“There are literally no more excuses for the death and hospitalization we are seeing,” he said.
Cox said Utah joined the nation in aiming to have at least 70% of residents with at least one vaccine by July 4, and 64.8% of adults in Utah have now had at least one dose. There are also federal agencies that have been giving vaccines and those numbers are not added to the total because those numbers are not reported to the state. Cox said around 115,000 people have been vaccinated by federal agencies. If those people were included in the count, 69.8% of adults in Utah would have had at least one dose.
“Even if we do hit that 70%, that’s not the endgame, it means we’re just getting started, we’re moving in the right direction,” Cox said. “We will continue working with urgency and looking for any options that will make vaccinations physically, emotionally and mentally easier for you.”
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson then spoke, saying 89% of people age 65 and older have received one dose of the vaccine and 82% of this age group is fully vaccinated. In addition, 26.8% of 12 to 15 have received at least one dose, which is more than 57,000 young people. The state was aiming to have 25% of this age group vaccinated by July 4, and has exceeded that total.
Henderson said that since March, there have been 370 requests for mobile clinics, and 287 of these requests have been completed; the state is working to complete 83 more. To request a vaccine event, click here.
Dr. Kencee Graves then spoke about the Delta variant. She said the variant is 60% more transmissible than the last variants, Alpha and Beta, which were 60% more transmissible than the native virus. There are more cases of the Delta variant in Utah than there are in Los Angeles, Graves said.
“A vaccine is important, and it is what we need to end this,” Graves said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We may get to 1,200 cases per day, we were there before. The difference now is that our hospitals are full of people who delayed care for 18 months when things were scary, when we didn’t have a vaccine.”
She added: “No one is safe from COVID unless you are vaccinated, and we need you all to help protect each other.”