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Governor Spencer Cox asking unvaccinated Utahns to get vaccinated

(Governor Cox, speaking about the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Utah. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Spencer Cox is asking Utahns who aren’t vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Doctors, hospital staff and elected officials are troubled at the spiking number of COVID-19 cases happening across Utah.

They’re especially worried since a strong variant of COVID-19 is in the state as Utahns are getting ready for their July 4th get-togethers. State health officials confirmed Utah had its first case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19 in March.

Governor Cox set a goal of having 70 percent of Utahns getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4th. He reported we haven’t reached that goal, with state officials saying only 64.8 percent of all eligible people have received at least one dose. 

However, that number doesn’t take into account all of the patients who have been vaccinated at federal facilities, like Veteran Affairs, so the real percentage is likely higher.

Analysts believe the rise in cases is proof the state is at the beginning of another surge. The rolling seven-day average for positive cases is 384 per day, compared to 213 from just a month ago. 

Our current rolling seven-day average of positive tests, person over person, is 8.6 percent. When last month, that number was only 6.4 percent.

Governor Cox confirmed unvaccinated people are the main drivers of the viral spread.

He said, “[The data shows] 93 percent of hospitalizations have been amongst unvaccinated people, and 95 percent of deaths were among unvaccinated people.”

Governor Cox understands there are many people who are hesitant to get the vaccine because they don’t trust its effectiveness, or they just don’t believe the vaccine is necessary. However, he’s pleading with those Utahns who aren’t vaccinated yet to reconsider.

“I’ve talked to doctors who have had patients change their minds. I’ve talked to family members who have changed their minds,” Cox explained.

Without vaccination, masks or social distancing, Department of Health Deputy Director Dr. Michelle Hoffman reported the outlook in the months to come is quite grim.

“Models, as of yesterday, not taking into account any additional surge we may expect from a return to school, are approaching 1,000 to 1,200 cases per day,” Hoffman confirmed. “We do not want to go back there.”

The state is also helping local health departments investigate four different outbreaks among children at sleepover camps.

Hoffman said, “These kids are not only becoming infected themselves, they’re exposing others at the camp and when they go home.”

The World Health Organization is calling on all vaccinated people to continue wearing masks, however, Hoffman says the CDC isn’t recommending that. She says the WHO is a global organization while the CDC looks at vaccination rates in the U.S., which are significantly higher than other parts of the world.