HEALTH

Could Utah’s Omicron peak happen soon? Doctors say it’s possible

Jan 10, 2022, 7:42 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2022, 7:57 am
(Javanni Alzayyat administers a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on De...
(Javanni Alzayyat administers a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on December 15, 2021. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Javanni Alzayyat administers a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on December 15, 2021. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — When will the Omicron variant peak start to happen in Utah?  Doctors believe it may happen soon, however, even if cases start to drop, they say people still need booster shots.

Utah Department of Health officials report 24,147 new cases of COVID-19 from this weekend, as well as 20 new deaths.  This brings the state’s rolling seven-day average to 7,768 new cases every day. And the average positive rate among people being tested has jumped to over 31 percent.

Dr. Todd Vento with Intermountain Healthcare said, “We had a 9,500-ish cases last week, which is really 2.5 times the highest we had ever seen in the last two years.”

Vento says roughly 95 of Utahns currently infected with COVID-19 have the Omicron variant.  Even if the virus is less severe than the Delta variant, Vento says the large number of infections have pushed ICUs to beyond capacity.  He also says all the data shows people who have received their vaccine booster shots are faring much better than those who have not.

“There is 90 percent protection from hospitalization at three months vs. 50 percent if you’ve only had two doses of the vaccine,” Vento said.

Reaching the Omicron peak?

So, if cases are still rising, how can health officials estimate when Utah will reach the Omicron peak?  Vento says they’ve been tracking the trends in countries with similar vaccination rates that have already hit their peak number of cases.

“If you use this data, you’ll see, already, that they’re starting to show that they’re coming down from their Omicron peak.  Actually, if you look at New York and Washington D.C., you see the same thing, as well,” he said.

Given that data, Vento says it’s possible Utah could hit the height of the Omicron surge in either late January, or early February.  However, that prediction isn’t set in stone.

He said, “Some of that will depend on what is the existing immunity in the community, whether that’s from natural immunization or vaccination.”

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