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‘There are still Utahns dying of COVID-19’: local doctor urges people to stay vigilant against the virus



PROVO, Utah– Utah’s statewide mask mandate will end April 10th and Governor Spencer Cox predicts all Covid-19 related public health orders will be gone in three months but relaxing those restrictions has some doctors concerned.

On Friday, Intermountain Healthcare’s Chief Physician Executive weighed in.

“Given the trajectory that we’re on right now we anticipate that those health restrictions will all be gone before July 1st,” Gov. Cox said Thursday.

Governor Cox also stated that we’re constantly exposed to various Coronaviruses, including the ones that cause the common cold.

“We’re used to Coronaviruses,” he said. “That’s not a problem. The problem is if it puts you in the hospital and kills you and does that at an excessive rate.”

On Friday, Intermountain Healthcare’s Chief Physician Executive Dr. Mark Briesacher said anytime you end a public health order, there’s a degree of risk.

“Is there risk? Yes. Are we going to be watching everything very carefully? Yes,” Dr. Briesacher said. “We’re fortunate to have had an effective response to distribution of vaccines so we’re benefitting from the initial push here but I would say all you have to do is look down to Brazil as a country and that’s the example of things not going well.”

Brazil has over 12 million cases and more than 303,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, Governor Cox acknowledged that some European countries and other states saw cases spike after lifting restrictions.

“There is something very different this time and that is our rate of vaccination is so much higher than theirs,” Gov. Cox said. “And even if we do see an increase in cases, the fact that we have vaccinated so many of our at-risk population makes us even less vulnerable to the outcomes.”

But Dr. Briesacher said it’s not time to let down our guard yet.

“Let’s not lose our edge. Let’s not forget how serious this is. There are still Utahns dying of Covid-19,” he said. “I have a lot of empathy for the fact that this disease is still creating such a burden for our communities and for individuals and for families. We owe it to them to stay vigilant and to keep moving forward in the right ways until we can really tamp this thing down.”

Dr. Briesacher emphasized that Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and clinics will require masks beyond April 10th in order to keep their employees and patients as safe as possible.