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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Summit County Health Board Reviews The Surge Of Covid Numbers, Post-Thanksgiving

Summit County Health Department

The Summit County Board of Health heard Monday that the surging numbers of Covid cases are not good news—but they weren’t a surprise, coming after Thanksgiving.

And County Health Director Rich Bullough said there’s a silver lining to Summit County’s numbers, compared to surrounding communities.   

The Health Director reported that, as of December 6th, the county had 2454 cases, 93 total hospitalizations and five deaths.

Bullough said trends are heading in the wrong direction, but it’s no surprise.    They saw the first large surge about six days after Thanksgiving.

He said that before the holiday weekend, Summit County saw 45 cases per 100,000 population, and an 11 percent positivity rate.   As of Monday, they had 84 cases per 100,000 and 18 percent positivity.

Board Member Chris Cherniak also noted that 61 percent of their cases come from residents 44 years of age or below, indicating that the younger population is driving the surge.

Bullough said one scary statistic is that, looking back over the entire pandemic period, 15 percent of their cases have occurred just in the past 14 days.

Still, he noted that Summit County is doing better than its neighbors.

“While our cases have surged significantly, to about 84 per 100,000, just to our south, Wasatch County is at about 138 per 100,000.  The state is significantly higher than we are.  Utah County remains high.  So, we’re too high.   We’re surging.  It’s a problem.  We’re surging at the wrong time.  But the behaviors of Summit County residents in general, I believe—and when I say residents, I include businesses—deserve a shout out.”

He said he’s hoping that their case numbers will stay flat, or even decline by Christmas.

“We were rocking it, not much more than about a week ago.   Our rates were still high, but they were trending downwards.  Then Thanksgiving hit.  We, a few days after Thanksgiving moved into incidence increase.   And, again, it was anticipated.  My hope is that we can enter a period of incidence plateau, and then incidence decline building into the Christmas season.  But this is really dire, and we need to ask the public to consider those gatherings, consider how we group as invididuals, considering, obviously, that we’ve got holiday seasons, and that means getting together, getting together with family.”

Meanwhile, the numbers on ICU capacity in hospitals are also worrisome.    A graph showed that in October the state climbed above the “Utilization Warning” level of 77 percent.    He said some days they are hitting 96 percent capacity.

And of the occupied ICU beds, 40 percent are Covid-related, which Bullough said is extremely concerning.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Health Board Member Doug Evans raised a concern.   He said that some relatives had had contact with people who were positive for Covid-19.    But his family members were told by Intermountain Health Care representatives that they couldn’t get tested unless they were sick or showed symptoms.

“This whole family, my daughter’s family, had been exposed.  And I said, “Well, you’re gonna have to call em and lie to em, and tell em that you all have symptoms.  And as soon as they did that, they scheduled em to come and get a test.”

Other Health Board members said they had been given similar information, or they heard from county residents who got the same message.

Bullough said that isn’t what he has been told.

“I’ve been told repeatedly, so this is news to me right now, Doug.  I’ve been told repeatedly, up until only about a week ago, that if you communicated—first of all, you’ve got to go online, or through the phone and you’ve gotta get a reservation to be tested—If you tell them that you are in direct contact with a confirmed case, I’ve been consistently told that you will receive a test.”

He said he will follow up on the issue with IHC.

Bullough added that, fortunately, state government took bolder action as the holidays approached, and called for a universal mask mandate.

But in answer to a question, he said it wouldn’t help for Summit County to adopt more stringent standards by itself, because a majority of their workforce comes from surrounding areas.    Bullough said they’d have to take a regional approach to be effective.

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