Local health officials: Utah may reach herd immunity by end of summer
SALT LAKE CITY — Almost a year after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Utah, local health officials say the state is nearing herd immunity.
To reach herd immunity, experts estimate 70-90% of a population must acquire COVID-19 antibodies to reach herd immunity. As of right now, health officials estimate Utah is around 30%.
“We know 180,000 Utahns have had COVID-19 over the past 90 days. We know that 750,000 have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher, Intermountain Healthcare’s chief physician executive, during a virtual news conference Friday.
However, assuming some people contracted COVID-19 but did not develop symptoms — that percentage may skew higher.
“We’re probably between 40% and 50% immune,” Briesacher said. “I could see that growing to 50% to 60% by April-May, and to about 70% by June [or] July.”
The good news comes with a caveat, the physician said. Briesacher warned reaching herd immunity hinges on whether the vaccines remain effective and if COVID-19 antibodies protect Utahns from new variants of the coronavirus.
This comes as the state reported 651 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths Friday. Confirmed cases have been on a steady decline over the past months as the vaccine becomes more widely available throughout the state.
Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday that residents who are 16 years or older with certain comorbidities are eligible to receive the vaccine, accelerating the governor’s initial plan to have every Utahn vaccinated by June. Now, he predicts every Utah adult could get the shot by the end of April.
“There is an end in sight,” the governor said during his weekly COVID-19 update Thursday.
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.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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