SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Lt, Governor Diedre Henderson, and Dr. Angela Dunn updated Utahns on the pandemic and what is currently taking place with the effort to get people vaccinated.
There is good news on the pandemic fight.
Governor Cox’s first said, “It’s been about a year since we launched the state’s fight against COVID-19, and we’ve learned so many things over the past year, and we certainly have more to do. I wanted to take just a second to reflect…looking over the difficulties of this past year, but the fact that we are well into vaccinating people now, we have people who are getting their second doses, and. have immunity from this disease, even the best experts were telling us a year ago that it would be at least 18 months or a couple of years before we could have vaccines that work, this is truly a miracle of modern science, to everyone who has worked so hard to make that happen we salute you.”
The governor pointed out that 267,027 doses have been administered in Utah.
There is a larger number of first shots than second shots. The numbers were reported like this, “The state reports 267,027 vaccines administered, up 16,579 from yesterday. Of those, 213,113 are first doses while 37,335 are second doses.”
The Governor reported that Utah had been given 28,000 extra doses of the vaccine.
He said that CVS and Walgreens have been continuing to vaccinate our long term care facilities. and have started on the second wave. The Governor said, “We appreciate their amazing work.”
The Governor pointed out the Biden administration is increasing its vaccine buy to 200 million more doses. 100 million from Moderna and 100 million from Pfizer. This will increase Utah’s allotment from 33,000 a week to about 40,000 doses per week. It’s just over a 16% increase.
2 more vaccines are in the approval chain. Johnson and Johnson is a single-dose vaccine. AstraZeneca should be approved by April. Weekly doses could be tripled.
The Governor said, “That will allow us to significantly increase, the population that is eligible; we’ll be using our age-based qualifications, as well as co-morbidities, we’re still working through that with the health department with exactly how they want to prioritize that, we’re hoping to have an announcement next week, on which age groups and co-morbidities will be in the next category.”
The Governor addressed wasted doses and if we have had wasted doses in the state. He said, “Certainly there have been news reports in other states of throwing away large batches of the vaccine that have expired, that is not happening in Utah, my executive order requires doses to be delivered in the week they are received, we’ve had a huge backlog, but none of that backlog, were doses that expired.”
“The great news is…we caught up, and our partners have been amazing there. I can tell you we have done an audit of a report of wasted doses in the state; we discovered that there were a total of 95 doses that were unable to be distributed; most were because the vial or the syringes were broken in transit, in that delivery process or due to vaccine being drawn into a syringe that was not able to be administered, at that time for whatever reason, usually due to an improper reconstitution or the preparation of the vaccine.”
The Governor said out of 395,000 doses that have been shipped, .0002% have been wasted.
Lt. Governor Henderson stepped up to the podium next.
She said she finished her tour of all 13 local health departments. Her job was to listen for the challenges and get state resources available to help mitigate the problems. She mentioned a time there was a backlog of vaccines more than 7 days old, but that has now been given out along with the vaccine from this past week.
She said she wanted to shout out to Utah county, “they experienced a lot of technical problems, and other difficulties, but despite all of that, they actually really hustled and were able to give all of their doses into the right arms by the end of last week and they’ve just done an incredible job, and I am really proud of them and all of our other health departments around the state.
Henderson said the health departments had been instructed to compile lists of people who haven’t been able to get an appointment and actually work with them as new doses become available to get them in for their vaccination.
She said, “We’ve also instructed them to keep a standby list of qualifying individuals, people who are currently in a category who qualify for a vaccine right now, to be able to get any extra doses at the end of the day. I’m sure you’ve heard each vial of vaccine often times contains one or more doses than what it’s supposed to contain, and they are able to get a little more out of there or people don’t show up for their appointment, so there’s often a few doses, at each clinic that are leftover at the end of the day, the health departments have compiled a list of individuals who they can call at a moments notice, kind of a standby list.”
Henderson explained the health department is also identifying people who are homebound, people who are part of the vulnerable populations who need to have the vaccine taken to them, and they are working to do that as well.”
The Lt. Governor talked about trying to figure out the state’s capacity for giving vaccines. Right now, 33,000 prime doses of vaccine have been given each week. That will increase starting next week.
Currently, across all health departments, the capacity is 77,400; with current resources and current plans in place, the state is working towards a sustainable plan of 143,000 doses each week.
Who gets the vaccines? All first responders K-12 teachers and staff who have direct contact with students and anyone over 70.
The state is asking everyone to be patient. There are many more people who want the vaccine than what is available right now to be given.
Dr. Angela Dunn spoke next and gave the new numbers for the state which are trending down, there were no new deaths to report.
She said that there could be another surge and still be careful as we go through the vaccination process.
Governor Cox stepped back up to speak about the suicide and overdose report released earlier.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah: namiut.org