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Early data indicates another possible rise in Utah coronavirus cases



Utah — The number of COVID-19 cases in Utah has stabilized over the last month after steady declines. Doctors with University of Utah Health said there are also early signs in the data that we will likely see another rise in new cases. But, right now, they believe the vaccines can hold off the virus.

“We fully do expect to see cases go up. Hopefully, not to the degree we’ve seen in Michigan and some other states, because Utah is doing such a great job with vaccinations,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, University of Utah Health chief medical operations officer

The U of U Health COVID-19 testing clinic on Redwood Road has seen an uptick in cases in the last few weeks. Overall, the numbers are few. But, Vinik calls it an early indicator that we may be in for a rise. It’s an underserved west side neighborhood with a higher proportion of Hispanic residents. During the pandemic, a rise in cases there typically signaled a rise elsewhere.

The data also shows an uptick of COVID-19 in Weber, Morgan, Davis and Wasatch counties.

Vinik said the uptick could be attributed to the U.K. variant, which now accounts for 40% of new cases in the University of Utah hospital system.

“The percentage of people who come in symptomatic, and test positive, it’s starting to creep upwards,” the doctor said. “That’s typically the first sign we see before we start to see more and more cases, and a higher percentage of people turn positive.”

The virus remains opportunistic in its never-ending search for a new host.

“It just wants to find the next person to jump to. It doesn’t care. So, if one area is seeing an acceleration of cases, it’s just more likely that it will spread to other people,” said Erin Clouse, MPH, strategic engagement manager for U of U Health.

Fortunately, more than 50% of Utahns age 16-plus have been vaccinated, and the number keeps growing.

As the race between the variants and the vaccines plays out, what prevents Utah from a surge like they are seeing in Michigan?

Vinik says a greater percentage of Utahns were exposed to the virus, giving them protection, and, “We’ve been able to get a lot more people vaccinated, and so if that surge does come, it will be later when we’ve had more of our population vaccinated,” Vinik said.

Which is why they are urging Utahns to continue to take preventative measures to avoid the virus and to get vaccinated.