Utah officials use data to protect elderly, high-risk populations from COVID-19

Coronavirus Updates

An elderly patient lies in a bed. (Photo by Theo Heimann/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) — The Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission voted to ask that Governor Gary Herbert move forward with a plan to protect high-risk populations on May 7, according to a release from the Utah Senate.

The plan was developed by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. In addition, on April 30, the Commission adopted the “Protecting High-Risk Populations Project” as part of the Utah Leads Together Plan, which included targeted goals to protect populations who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

The Commission carefully reviewed data for high-risk populations in making this recommendation. In so doing, they decided that the shift from the red to orange phase does not apply to vulnerable populations and those at high risk should still follow high-risk phase guidelines.

Data shows that COVID-19 has largely impacted the elderly in Utah.

As of Thursday, 93.4 percent of those who have passed away from COVID-19 in Utah have been 65 years or older and/or in a high-risk category. According to Utah’s COVID-19 Patient Fatality Data as of Monday, 72.5 is the average age of fatalities from the virus and 73.5 years is the median age.

In addition, those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are high-risk populations.

“The most important steps we can take involve protecting the most vulnerable among us as we move from the urgent phase,” said Sen. Dan Hemmert, co-chair of the Commission. “Data now suggests most people will recover, and that the greatest danger of grave illness lies mainly with the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Now is the time to strategize using the data and find long-term solutions. We must remain committed to fighting COVID-19 with every means possible.” 

 The Commission will continue to give updates as they gain new insights from data.

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