‘Dangerously close’: Governor Cox reflects on the pandemic during final weekly Covid-19 update

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In another sign that the coronavirus pandemic is winding down in Utah, Governor Spencer Cox stepped to the podium Thursday morning for his final weekly Covid-19 update.

As Lieutenant Governor and now Governor, Cox provided updates on the Covid situation for 15 months. As cases and deaths continue to dwindle, he had a clear message: If you’re not vaccinated, you are still at risk.

“Since we opened up the vaccine to everyone in Utah, we have had more than 70 people die from the Coronavirus,” Gov. Cox said. “That’s 70 people who died. Those are completely preventable deaths. Every single one of those. Conversely, we have not had a single person in the state of Utah die from getting the vaccine.”

“There have been 688 deaths from Covid-19 since January 1,” Utah Department of Health Deputy Director Dr. Michelle Hofmann added. “99.9% of those deaths have been in unvaccinated individuals. These vaccines are safe. They are exceedingly effective. They are the magic bullet.”

Gov. Cox announced these updates will now be once every two weeks and took some time to reflect on the news conferences that stand out in his memory, like March 12, 2020.

“Certainly the one after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive,” he said. “That was a big moment. Remember those were the fourth and fifth cases in the state of Utah, and that’s when everything changed nationwide.”

In April of 2020, the Utah Division of Emergency Management set up an overflow 260-bed hospital at Mountain America Expo Center. On Thursday, the governor revealed they almost had to use it when ICUs were nearly overwhelmed in October.

“We were preparing the Expo Center to receive patients in the case of hospitalization overloads and then coming so dangerously close to having to do that,” he said. “We were literally days if not hours away from having to triage patients and move them to the Expo Center, which is just awful how close we came and I don’t think most people realize that.”

He closed by cautioning that while weekly news conferences are over, the pandemic is not.

“Certainly this is not the end, and I don’t want it to sound like the end,” he said. “We’ll still be back together and having these conversations, but it is a little bit emotional I think for everyone who’s been involved in this response.”

The Utah Department of Health will continue to provide daily updates of case and vaccination numbers and the Governor’s first bi-weekly Covid-19 news conference is scheduled for Thursday, June 10.

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