WEBER-MORGAN COUNTIES, Utah (ABC4) – Just yesterday, ABC4 brought you a story about a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in two Northern Utah counties. Those counties are also reporting an increase in deaths. Health officials break down what’s going on and how the surge can be stopped.
“We had one death ages 5 to 11 which is, which is, tragic,” Governor Spencer Cox stated at his monthly COVID-19 press conference. During the meeting, he reminded Utahns that the virus can seriously affect young people.
At the Weber-Morgan Health Department, this is sadly proving true with a recent increase in deaths.
“The vast majority of our cases who are dying are not vaccinated,” Communicable Disease and Epidemiology Nurse Amy Carter told ABC4. “The vast majority of our people who are being hospitalized are not vaccinated.”
Carter, with the health department, explained the two counties mirror the state in that around 98% of people who are hospitalized or die from COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
In May, the department reported a drop in new COVID-19 cases with a total of 911. Then the surge began. July saw an increase of cases with a total of 1,693. As the surge in new cases began to take off, so did the number of deaths.
In the last two weeks, the department has had one death almost every day. There have been 12 in total during that time frame. Since the pandemic began, the department has reported a total of 239 deaths across both counties.
“Obviously, we don’t want to see any deaths from COVID-19 when they could have been prevented with vaccination,” Carter said.
The department announced four deaths on Aug. 4. This accounted for half of all new deaths across Utah. Moreover, two of the deaths were in younger patients. One was a man between the ages of 25 and 44 and the other was a man between the ages 15 and 24.
The health department does not release the vaccination status of individuals who die of the virus in order to protect the privacy of the family.
Carter told ABC4 the health department is now seeing more severe cases in young adults. About 80% of all new cases are caused by the Delta variant. She said this variant not only spreads easier, but often leads to worse conditions than the original virus.
Even though current vaccines are not as effective at preventing someone from getting the Delta variant, Carter explained that getting the community vaccinated is still the best way to stop the current surge. She added: “Vaccines are still providing about a 60, 65% protection against getting the virus itself and then when it comes to having to be hospitalized, or possibly dying from COVID-19, that protection from the vaccine is up in the 90s.”
Currently, only 41% of people in the two counties are fully vaccinated. Carter, and the health department as a whole, is encouraging people 12 years and older to get vaccinated “because that is going to be our best step toward achieving that immunity as a community and as a whole.”
Along with encouraging vaccination, the health department suggests everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to use masks when visiting indoor, public facilities. Officials are also reminding Utahns to stay home if they are feeling sick, practice good hygiene, and get tested when needed.