© 2023 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
LIVE BLOG: Gwyneth Paltrow in Summit County court for ski accident lawsuit
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.

Amid Positive Headlines, Summit County's COVID-19 Transmission Rate Remains 'High'


Summit County’s Health Director says the county is seeing some positive trends in the pandemic with the arrival of vaccines and a decline in cases. But Rich Bullough said citizens still need to be cautious.

Health Board Chairman Chris Cherniak noted that they were meeting almost a year to the day from the time the Board received its first briefing on a new virus the World Health Organization was calling Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Rich Bullough reported that as of Monday, the county had just passed 5,000 total cases. It has recorded 147 hospitalizations. And the 14-day number is 163 cases, meaning the county is still in the High Transmission Index and will be for some time.

He said the county has now recorded nine deaths. He said they just received word of the latest fatality, a male approximately 50 years old. Health officials said the death occurred in December, and the medical examiner’s office had just reported it as a Covid death.

Still, he said the number is relatively low.

“And we’re very fortunate,” Bullough said. “But part of the reason we’ve escaped the higher number of deaths is because our hospital system has been able to maintain capacity. So I just want to remind people we’re not there yet.”

He said recent case numbers have been a little uneven. After an extended decline from the first of the year, they saw growth for five days. But he said as of Monday, they were on a plateau.

Health Board Member Doug Evans noted that even though they’re on a plateau, that level is higher than the peak they saw in the summer. He said they want to see the case numbers more like last September’s, about half of the current plateau.

Bullough said that other health officials in the state, the nation and around the globe are concerned that citizens are easing off a little too soon. He said residents should continue to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and limit social gatherings.

He said they didn’t see a surge from the weekend of the Super Bowl, when many residents gather in homes, so it’s likely locals were prudent and didn’t have big parties. Bullough said it’s too soon to tell if there were any impacts from the Valentine’s and President’s Day period.

He said in terms of positivity numbers, the county is doing enormously well.

“We were, for a long stretch of time, one of the three lowest counties in the state,” he said. “That is, in part, kudos to everybody doing tests. I used to only say Intermountain, but Phil Bondurant and others have implemented the business-testing program. We’ve got multiple-testing partners in the community now. Schools are doing a ton of testing. All of those data are reported. So these numbers are reflective of very high volume of testing. And the target is about 5 percent, which is right about where we are.”

Bullough added that the local school districts have also done well.

“Their biggest challenge was when they were not in the school environment over the holidays, and when individuals and the students came back, Park City School District exceeded the threshold and they were challenged,” he said. “But they did massive testing. All three districts have been testing. Park City, they tested every student, and they found very, very low rates of infection. So the school districts have done really, really well. And we’ve been fortunate. In some ways, I’d like to say we’re an outlier and that we’re just better than everybody else. But the reality of it is there’s been relatively little spread in schools nation-wide if mitigation measures are in place. Where masks aren’t worn, and school is just being held as normal, the outbreaks go through the roof. But that has not been the case in Summit County. They’ve done a great job.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
Related Content