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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.

Bullough Says COVID-19 Vaccination and Case Rates are Encouraging, Warns of Large Events


Summit County’s Health Director says the continued good news on local COVID-19 case rates means that the vaccines are effective, and that locals who are still not vaccinated need to get their shots.


Health Director Rich Bullough gave a brief update during a Conversation with Council held on Monday.


He said the state reported 148 cases on Sunday—a far cry, fortunately, from the time when Utah scored nearly 1,000 cases a day.


Bullough said the state is reporting an incidence rate of 7 per 100,000. Summit County has a rate of 1.6 per 100,000, and a 14-day rate of 32.


Unfortunately, he said, the county recorded its 13th death last week, and they expect the 14th this week. The two cases were unvaccinated individuals in their late 60s. Bullough said virtually all hospitalizations and deaths reported now are people who have not been vaccinated.


He said more than 90 percent of Summit County residents over 50 have been vaccinated. And even in the 12-15 age group, which has begun vaccinations recently, 31% have received a vaccine. That’s compared to 6% in Utah and 4% nationwide.


Bullough said they continue to watch out for the emergence of coronavirus variants, though the vaccines are effective, to varying degrees, against them all.


“Generally, the Brazilian, South African and U.K. variant, the vaccines are quite effective, not quite as high in the Brazilian variant apparently,” he said.


He said the county has received its first report of an infection of the Indian variant. That strain is remarkable for a number of reasons.


“First of all, it appears to be more contagious,” Bullough said. “Secondly, people appear to get more sick. And third, the vaccines appear to be a little bit less effective on it. And so it’s kind of a triple-whammy. The specific case that we’ve had here in Summit County, the individual was asymptomatic, and they got tested because they were gonna travel. And so it doesn’t affect everybody the same way like everything else. So the numbers that I’ve seen so far for the India variant, for the mRNA vaccines are somewhere in the ballpark of 70 to 75 percent effective, which is about 20 percent less effective than the native strain. Still very effective.”


Bullough said he is still concerned about large events locally.


“Some of the events—I’ll just throw some out—the County Fair, the Oakley Rodeo, and then obviously the big events in Park City,” he said. “I’m still concerned that we have pockets of people that are not vaccinated. Our overall numbers look really good, but we know that the numbers are lower in certain demographic groups within our county.”


In addition, Summit County Councilor Glenn Wright advised that local service workers need to be vaccinated, given the influx of tourists that’s likely to start in two to three weeks. He said local youngsters also need their shots, because of the visitors expected for athletic tournaments this summer.

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.
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