Health

Utah is facing the most COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reported 715 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, a new high since the pandemic began. 202 of those patients are currently in an intensive care unit.

UDOH also reported 12,564 new cases and 18 deaths. 2,330 of the new cases are school-age children (ages 5-17). Last week, Governor Spencer Cox and other state officials urged residents that are not high risk to not get tested, emphasizing that case counts are underscoring the true virus spread in the state.

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The average rate of tests coming back as positive is 41.6%.

According to UDOH, 59% of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated. In Summit County, where 86% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, case counts have dipped slightly from their all-time highs in early January. 157 cases were reported in the county on Tuesday. Four people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past week in Summit County, three of which were unvaccinated.

“There’s still a lot of severe disease occurring among people who are unvaccinated, and they shouldn’t take too much comfort in the fact that [omicron is] somewhat less severe than delta because it’s so much more infectious,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah.

“Because of these massive numbers, omicron is having an impact on us, on you and me, on the health care system, on police, fire, emergency services, on stocking of grocery stores and clearing of streets, unlike anything we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. So we really shouldn’t have any sense that this, because it is a little bit less severe, is not causing massive disruption,” Pavia said.

“There is long-term hope, but it is not time to let up. We absolutely need people to take it very seriously for the next, probably, two weeks. We need to continue masking in indoor places, need to get more people vaccinated. Once we get past this next couple of weeks, our supplies of monoclonal antibody should improve, our supplies of oral antiviral drugs should improve (and) the number of health care workers who are back at work … should improve. But now is not the time to let up or to get infected.”

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