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COVID-19 Case Counts May Constitute Social Restrictions


COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Utah.

KPCW reports on the concerns health experts have and the possibility of implementing social restrictions to quell the alarming infection rates. Carolyn Murray reports on the concerns health experts have and the possibility of implementing social restrictions to quell the alarming infection rates.

On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Health announced 559 new COVID cases, up 88 from the same period last week. They reported 293 hospitalizations and four COVID deaths. Intermountain Healthcare Epidemiologist Dr. Brandon Webb said caregivers in Utah's hospitals are starting to feel the impacts of the recent surge in cases. Some hospitals are postponing elective surgeries and procedures. Dr. Webb said the COVID pandemic is not over, and the impacts reach beyond a person's health.

"The reality is that the pandemic is not over. This is a terrible disease that still affects people's lives and livelihoods. It's affecting more and more Utahns every day. The consequences are not limited to health.  They impact our society and community in many ways. With increasing case counts, we are now again in a position where we're going to have to face the possibility that social restrictions in different venues may be necessary to control the disease to decrease hospitalizations and decrease unnecessary death. And all of that can be prevented through vaccination.”

Dr. Webb said even those who've had COVID must get vaccinations because the new variant is highly transmissible and substantially more severe.

"Individuals who've had COVID and are then vaccinated generate a very strong immune response with antibody levels up to 40 times higher and have much better protection against all of the variants of concern. And that's the single most important reason to be vaccinated, even if you've already had COVID-19.

Dr. Webb said experts have more confidence in the effectiveness and the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines than they've ever had with any other vaccine product.

"More than 330 million doses of vaccines have been given in the United States, in what amounts to the most wide-reaching and most thorough vaccine safety surveillance program in history. And with that, we can say confidently as healthcare professionals and providers that these vaccines are safe, that they are well tolerated and that they are remarkably effective. And that, for everyone who's been impacted by this ongoing pandemic, vaccines remain the single most important thing that we can do to decrease community transmission and get back to normal."

Dr. Webb said most Utah communities are now in high transmission levels, and he is confident the legislature will use this data when considering public health policy."

"Those numbers do inform policy decisions, and especially with respect to specific situations where reinstituting precautions are necessary. And I know that those discussions are being had right now at the level of the Department of Health in the Department of Education with businesses and community leaders with religious groups, with the new increase in cases discussions about implementing social restrictions and other precautions are being had, as we speak."

Dr. Webb said they expect to have vaccine availability for children under 12 in August.


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