Utah leaders eager for vaccine as COVID-19 deaths top 1,000

Dec 10, 2020, 10:47 AM | Updated: 7:46 pm
Utah COVID-19 vaccine...
FILE: Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Department of Health, left, speaks with Joe Dougherty, director of public affairs for the Utah Department of Public Safety, as officials hold a background briefing on COVID-19 vaccine distribution at the Capitol Emergency Operations Center in the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 1,000 people have died from COVID-19 so far in Utah, just one more reason why state leaders are eager to start distributing the vaccine, potentially as soon as next week. 

COVID-19 vaccine timeline in Utah

The Food and Drug Administration meets Thursday to discuss possible approval for a vaccine, but a decision could come later — for example, over the weekend or early next week. According to the Utah Department of Health, the state does not yet have any doses of the first vaccine under consideration, which is from Pfizer, but expects to get it as soon as it’s approved. 

However, as Utah approached that grim milestone of 1,000 deaths, state leaders looked forward to vaccine distribution. 

Thursday morning, Gov. Gary Herbert, Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, and state health officials addressed the public live to update the situation. You can watch the video below. 

Herbert addressed the order in which Utahns can receive vaccines. As expected health care workers topped the list, along with long-term care facility residents, but Herbert announced teachers would be included in the first tier of vaccine recipients in order to hopefully help keep schools open and children learning. 

1,000 deaths 

As of Thursday, 1,016 Utahns had died because of COVID-19, 554 were receiving treatment in hospitals, and 220 were receiving treatment in intensive care units. 

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, was concerned about how many have died in a short period of time. 

“This is the third day in a row we’ve reported 20 deaths in a single day,” Dunn said. “This is definitely related to the November surge we saw in cases.”   

The more than 1,000 deaths represent a cross-section of Utah residents. Salt Lake County has lost the highest number of residents, 459, but of the 13 regional health departments that cover the state, not a single one had no deaths.

The dead range in age from under one to over 85; however, the health department does not provide an exact count for deaths under the age of 14 to protect privacy — its data dashboard says instead that fewer than five people between ages 1 and 14 have died, and fewer than give people under the age of 1 have died. 

The state considers around 165,000 of the more than 225,000 Utahns who tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic “recovered.” However, some experience long-lasting effects even months later. 

Automated contact tracing 

Dr. Dunn said a new form of contact tracing would soon be available, using text messaging. 

Starting tomorrow, Utahns should receive a text message with a link to the form to opt-in. 

“Contact tracing helps us identify people who really need to get tested,” Dunn said. 

Both she and Herbert thanked Utahns who limited gatherings and exposure in the weeks before Thanksgiving, saying that helped limit the post-Thanksgiving case surge they expected. 

The good news extended to both overall cases and the positivity rate in Utah. 

“Both are up slightly, but it is not nearly the surge we were expecting post-Thanksgiving,” Dunn said. 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Thousands of fraudulent nursing diplomas  were dispersed in Florida. (Canva)...
Associated Press via Miami Herald

Fake nursing diploma scheme in Florida; 25 arrested

The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison.
11 hours ago
A bill making its way through the Utah legislative session this year wants to promote Utah's extrem...
Allessandra Harris

SB 151 would exempt certain businesses from farmer’s market regulations

Under S.B.151, minor producers would not be required to tell consumers their food is not officially licensed by the state.
11 hours ago
Sen. Nate Blouin, D-Salt Lake, left, and Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake, speak at a press conferenc...
Lindsay Aerts

Bill to set target water level for the Great Salt Lake dries up

The bill proposed by Sen. Nate Blouin, would set a target elevation goal at 4.198 feet. However, the bill died in committee.
11 hours ago
Police are looking for a shooting suspect, after a man was found with a critical gunshot wound in S...
Kate Davis and Simone Seikaly

One man wounded, suspect on the run after Glendale shooting

Glendale police said the shooting happened Wednesday night near 1665 South Riverside Drive, not far from the Jordan River.
11 hours ago
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA, USA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Tuesday  morning 6 more wee...
Scottie Andrew, CNN

The bizarre history of Groundhog Day

So how did Groundhog Day go from a kooky local tradition to an annual celebration even those of us who don't worry about winter can find the fun in?
11 hours ago
Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, pictured here, in Ahmedabad India on April 2, 2014 abandoned a dea...
By Mark Thompson, CNN

Adani scraps $2.5 billion share sale as value of his empire collapses

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani on Wednesday abandoned a deal to raise $2.5 billion from investors after a week-long meltdown in the value of his logistics and energy business empire that started when an American short seller accused the conglomerate of fraud.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Utah leaders eager for vaccine as COVID-19 deaths top 1,000