Covid Case Counts In Wasatch County Cause Concern
The Wasatch County Council heard Wednesday that COVID-19 cases are increasing, and public health is working hard to keep up with contact tracing and identifying infection sources. Statewide case hit a record 1500 on Thursday.
Wasatch County Public Health Official Randall Probst told council the cases are going in the wrong direction and he is particularly concerned that cold weather and flu season will put added stress on public health in general. He and other officials are concerned about the upward trends. In the past 14 days there have been more than 500 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state.
“Both general hospitalization as well as ICU utilization. Fortunately for us, we have not seen the heavy hospital use and haven't contributed largely to the ICU. For us, part of the measure in determining risk levels, because we don't have ICU beds here in the Valley, we are included in the overall state determination there. I think as of today they reported of ICU utilization statewide 72% and the goal is to keep that down under 80%, which were approaching closer to that than we've ever been.”
Flu clinics are underway in Wasatch County. Probst says they don’t know when a vaccine will be available to the general public but surely not until next year.
“What concerns us a little more is the clustering here of many days as opposed to back here where we saw some highs and lows bouncing back and forth each day. Certainly we share statewide concern and then we kind of anticipated as we move more into this colder even though it's not real cold yet as we move back into the colder weather the cold viruses and other things begin to flourish certainly isn't an issue."
Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis says the decision to go to a level orange is data driven and he says council has not weighed in on ithe issue of a mask mandate. However, wearing a mask is encouraged and he says county offices and many businesses require them.
“Where we’re in a spike situation, I think they want to see if that is a spike situation or if that's becoming more of a trend. If that starts to come down then it's an indicator it was more of a spike, and not a trend. But that's absolutely what they're looking at. The mask mandate, that's just something that none of the council members have really spoken about. So I don't have a clear indication what their concerns may be with that.”
Contact tracing is required whenever a case is identified and often there are up to 25 people per case. The Utah National Guard is helping with those efforts.
“We were doing better until we hit the Labor Day and some of the school activities increased. We're fortunate. We feel that we're not getting it directly from the school but there seems to be associated with socializing of youth and other things we've seen somewhat of a shift.”
Council Member Danny Goode asked council for a discussion on the possibility of a mask mandate as an option to address the increases.
So, in our interlocal meeting last Wednesday or Thursday, during your report, I had asked at the end if any of the elected officials were interested in discussing a mask mandate and no one was at the time. Is anyone interested in discussing that today? OK, Randall what do we see from the Governor on how he's taking action that some of the other counties where can we expect for Wasatch County?”
“As you know the Governor has done a few executive orders and there's been a few of public health orders including some of the school mask mandate and some of those things more recently. But in general the Governor’s approach has been he trusts the local folks to evaluate what's going on and make as many of the decisions that can be made locally.”
Probst says the state process allows the county council to petition the COVID commission and Governor to make a change to a higher alert level along with ordering a mask mandate. The Governor’s office could also step in and issue orders if needed.