Utah doctors address the spike in COVID-19 cases, concern for weeks ahead

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Coronavirus cases are increasing at an alarming rate in Utah, and local healthcare experts are addressing the rise.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, with reporting data confirming the state’s seven-day average for cases are trending back up.

“Compared to this time last year, we are higher. So, 50% higher on the one and then 19% higher at this time last year,” says Erin Clouse, a strategic engagement manager at University of Utah Health.

With more cases of the virus being reported daily to public health officials, doctors are concerned about what the weeks ahead may bring if cases don’t drop.

“With increasing case counts, we are now again in a position where are going to have to face the possibility that social restrictions in different venues to control the disease, decrease hospitalizations and decrease unnecessary death,” says Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare.

“I do worry about our community with schools going back into session. I think we saw what happened in 2020 and I think that entering schools without mask mandates is concerning,” says Dr. Kencee Graves, M.D., an associate chief medical officer for inpatient services at U of U Health.

Both Graves and Webb say the most effective way to limit the virus’ spread is to get vaccinated.

“COVID in the community is more COVID in the community,” Graves explains. “We need people to get the vaccine, to stay safe, and use the public health measures to restrict transmission.”

“Vaccines remain the single most important thing that we can do to decrease community transmission and get back to normal,” Webb adds.

A majority of the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, with the average age of patients now dropping below 50 years old, doctors say.

With the potential for another surge in cases, which leads to hospitalization and deaths, hospital officials are preparing for what could come.

As of Wednesday, U of U Health reports they are beginning to postpone a few of their non-essential surgeries. Intermountain Healthcare reports they are closely monitoring the situation, but have not made any decisions to delay elective surgeries.

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