Utah (ABC4 News) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert addressed the state during his weekly coronavirus press conference Thursday, sharing concerns about holiday gatherings and the upcoming distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Utah Department of Health announced they have officially placed the state’s first order for COVID-19 vaccines. The order for the Pfizer vaccine was placed Thursday, Dec. 4. The doses are expected to ship directly to Utah hospitals as soon as the FDA approves the vaccine, estimated to be around Dec. 15. Thursday, officials added the first shipments for the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped to Utah within the first 24 house of the FDA’s approval.
Gov. Herbert also announced teachers, K-12, will be at the front of the line to get the COVID-19 vaccinations. He said he hopes to have enough vaccines for all Utah teachers by the end of December or the first part of January. “We need teachers to be able to teach,” Gov. Herbert said.
It’s been two weeks since Thanksgiving and Utah health officials say they were expecting a surge, “the good news is, it didn’t happen,” Gov. Herbert said Thursday.
He said coronavirus cases are not nearly what they were expecting following the Thanksgiving holiday. He reminds Utahns “it’s not time to give up our commitment” as the Christmas and New Years’ holiday approach.
He encouraged Utahns to continue meeting with only those who live in their household, wear their masks, continue social distancing efforts, and to get tested if they feel sick.
Dr. Angela Dunn, State Epidemiologist, Utah Department of Health also announced a new automated contact tracing system. Beginning Friday, Utahns who test positive might get a text message asking them to fill out a secure form. The form will ask Utahns to answer questions regarding contact tracing.
“Utahns will begin receiving a text message from the Department of Health with a link to a http://Utah.gov link directing them to a form. Contact tracing helps us identify people who really need to get tested,” as stated by the Sate of Utah COVID-19 Response.
Personal information will only be asked for in the secure form, not through the text itself, Dr. Dunn adds.