SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In what was touted as the final regularly scheduled statewide COVID-19 briefing, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox and other speakers took a more urgent tone in calling on unvaccinated residents to get their shots.
“Our message today, much like drought and much like fire, is please, please, please, don’t make it worse,” Cox asked of Utahns before listing some statistics he and others have found concerning.
Wednesday’s COVID-19 case counts were the highest in the state since March 4, said the Governor. Additionally, an increase to 257 hospitalizations brought the state to its highest mark since February 19.
The biggest factor in the increase and the solution to the problem are closely related, according to Cox and his fellow speakers, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Dr. Michelle Hofmann from the Utah Department of Health, and Dr. Kencee Graves from the University of Utah. Unvaccinated Utahns are susceptible to variants in the virus and are putting an unnecessary strain on the healthcare system, according to the group.
Cox stated that from May 1 to June 25, 93% of new cases, 93% of hospitalizations, and 95% of COVID-related deaths have been attributed to unvaccinated Utahns.
“Ninety-five percent of you don’t need to die,” Cox said grimly.
Previously, Cox had said that the state would fall below its goal of 70% of residents at least one dose of the vaccine. However, according to the state’s reporting figures, in addition to information that Cox and this team have received from federal vaccine administrators, the target is nearly within reach. According to Cox, 69.8% of Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
However, that doesn’t mean the game is over, in his words.
“There’s nothing magical about that 70% threshold, we’d rather have 99 or 100% of adults in Utah vaccinated,” he stated. “Even if we do hit 70%, that doesn’t mean it’s the end game.”
Near the end of his initial remarks, Cox advised that due to positive cases at the South Salt Lake DMV, the facility would have decreased services available for a while.
Henderson, in her turn at the microphone, continued the pleas for more vaccination, especially with children aged 12-15. Getting kids vaccinated would make a major difference for them in their schooling.
“These are kids who will not have to quarantine if they get exposed to someone who has COVID-19 when they go back to school in the game. That’s a great incentive for them,” Henderson stated.
Hofmann, echoed the call to have children vaccinated, especially as she has seen an increase in cases and some outbreaks that have occurred at overnight youth camps.
“It’s not secret who is driving this surge in cases and hospitalizations, it’s unvaccinated people,” she stated.
Anticipating an already strained healthcare system to be even more affected by Fourth of July recreation-related accidents, Graves also reiterated the need for increased vaccination, referring to the state of affairs at local hospitals.
“It’s been really hard for our healthcare workers and they’re tired,” she affirmed. “We cannot respond like we did in 2020, so what we need is your help keeping us all safe, our kids, our sick patients, and each other.”