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Summit Health Director Sees Hopeful Signs in COVID Trends

Summit County Health Dept.

Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant says that the county’s COVID-19 numbers are showing some modest improvements, compared to the rest of the state.

But Bondurant says the county isn’t out of the woods yet.  

In his regular report to the County Board of Health on Monday, Bondurant said that case counts for Utah showed an increase at the end of August and early September.   

Summit County showed a decline, he said, reporting nine-and-a-half to ten cases per day in the early part of the month.

But Bondurant said they’re waiting with bated breath for any impacts from the Miner’s Day weekend.

The county’s level for 14-day active positive cases per 100,000 people came to nearly 380 cases in mid-August.   

Summit’s 14-day positivity rate now is 330 per 100,000 people.    And within Summit, the eastern county shows 450 cases for every 100,000 residents, as compared to a 14-day rate of 285 in the western county.

In August, the county was reclassified from a moderate to high transmission status.  Bondurant said one reason for that was a state metric.     

“And that is a state-wide number for ICU utilization and total hospital utilization that, generally speaking, is not something that we can influence in Summit County.  That’s a state-wide metric that’s used.    And as we learned three to four weeks ago, the state ICU concerns and a number of hospitalizations increasing at the rate it has, that ticked us up to the high level of transmission from moderate.”

The state has reported that over 91 percent of all its ICU beds are occupied.

Dr. Wing Province reported that the Intermountain Health Care system expected to hit 150 percent this week.     Meanwhile, IHC recently announced it will be postponing many non-urgent surgeries for several weeks.

The doctor also noted that several studies are saying it’s time to look at additional booster shots.

He said the county has seen growth in “breakthrough” cases—patients who have been vaccinated but still caught the virus. 

“The immunity from the vaccine lasts about eight months after you’ve been vaccinated.  Natural immunity, if you were to get the disease without being vaccinated, your immunity lasts for almost three months, a little more than two months, but about three months is a good number.   So the vaccine lasts about eight months.    And now we’re seeing folks who were vaccinated about eight or nine months ago who have having break-through cases.   And again those are the folks whose immune systems are already weakened due to their own medical condition or ages.”

Dr. Province said he’s working with the county health department to have booster shots available within the month.

Phil Bondurant said the county is also looking forward to getting a vaccine for children 5 to 12.   He told KPCW that once a vaccine gets an FDA approval on an emergency basis, and is OK’d by the Utah Department of Health, they can start giving the shots.

Some of the best news for Summit County is that its vaccination rates are among the highest in the country.   At least one dose of the vaccine has been given to 93 percent of eligible residents.     A complete series of shots has been given to 82 percent of those eligible.

But Bondurant said it’s no time to be complacent.       

“To say that we are out of the woods and that we can rely only on the vaccination numbers I think is a bit of a fallacy at this point.  It’s too early to tell and it’s too early to make a prediction as to what is to come when the weather turns and we begin to move inside and things change.    But it does provide hope that those that are vaccinated, the 82 percent that are vaccinated that are eligible tend to fare better than those that are not, which is why our focus lies in that ineligible population for vaccination.”

Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant.

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