IN FOCUS Discussion: September’s COVID-19 update

In Focus
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Vaccines dominated most of the COVID-19 headlines in September.

The FDA awarded the first full COVID-19 vaccine approval to Pfizer. Pfizer then reported its vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11. Just this week, a CDC advisory panel made a recommendation to allow booster shots to be administered to those living in long-term care facilities, people who are over the age of 65, and those who have underlying medical conditions. The CDC Director then overruled the decision to include frontline workers as well, such as teachers, daycare workers, grocery, and healthcare workers.

President Joe Biden required federal employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Multiple schools such as University of Utah, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah Valley University mandated COVID-19 vaccines for students. University of Utah Health required vaccines for their hospital and medical staff. Salt Lake County mandated employees to wear masks in county buildings.

Meanwhile, health experts issued a warning to the public to stop taking ivermectin, a drug commonly used to treat horses and other livestock for worms, in an attempt to prevent or treat COVID-19. Poison control centers across the country reported an increase in calls from those who used the drug. As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rose on all fronts, the long lines and wait times returned at COVID-19 testing facilities.

A new mutation of COVID-19, dubbed the Lambda variant (C.37) is starting to emerge and little is still known about it. It was first recorded in Peru in 2020. Another variant, B.1.621 — which does not yet have a name was discovered in Colombia earlier this year. It caused an outbreak at a Belgium nursing home and killed seven fully-vaccinated people. However, neither the Lambda nor the B.1.621 variant appears more lethal than the Delta mutation.

Both Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health reported that their ICUs are at 100 percent capacity or more. Intermountain postponed a number of surgeries amid a COVID surge. A number of nurses have had to work extra shifts to keep up with the pandemic demand. Grand County High School canceled class amid a COVID-19 outbreak. A teenage girl became the second Utah youth to die of COVID-19.

Brandy Fisher and her 12-year-old daughter, Arabella who suffers from Long COVID joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. They shared how Arabella contracted COVID-19, what some of her continuing long-term symptoms are after she recovered from the virus, how it’s impacted her life on a day-to-day basis, what they’ve learned about long COVID through their research and personal experiences, and the support groups out there for people suffering from the condition.

Dr. Brayden Yellman, who is a post-viral syndrome specialist with the Bateman Horne Center discussed the data of how many people are at risk of having long-term symptoms after recovering from COVID-19, how many are children, what experts are seeing in terms of symptoms, the similarities and differences to ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and fibromyalgia, how Long COVID is treated, and what people should do if they think they have Long COVID.

Dr. Margot Riggi, a post-doctoral fellow of biochemistry at the University of Utah talked about their COVID visualization project, the work she does in the lab, why biological animation is important, who’s been contributing to the project, the key points in the animation, how the project addresses that science isn’t settled on how the virus works, and the intersection of science and art.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with the Fishers, Dr. Yellman, and Dr. Riggi, click on the video at the top of the article.

CORRECTION: When asked about the numbers of COVID-19 cases, Dr. Yellman quoted global numbers of 230 million cases. 40 million of those cases have been in the United States.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie_Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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