COVID-19 cases have stayed low in Utah despite Memorial Day weekend celebrations two weeks ago.
Even with the return to outdoor celebrations like Memorial Day, Utah didn’t see a dramatic spike in cases, according to infectious disease expert at Intermountain Healthcare Eddie Stenejhem.
"In my mind, Memorial Day was kind of the inflection point of where you really saw a lot of people stopping wearing masks, you saw a lot more people out engaging in the community," he said during a press conference Friday. "And we have seen cases come up a little bit. But not nearly the spike or the surge that we saw, after Halloween or after the Christmas, New Year's holiday. So we are in a good spot."
He said cases and hospitalizations have remained low thanks to vaccinations. But COVID-19 still presents a danger to residents who are at-risk or who haven’t been vaccinated.
With only around half of eligible Utahns fully vaccinated, Stenjem says COVID-19 transmission will continue throughout the state. He said herd immunity won’t be reached until almost 80% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated.
As of Sunday, 73% of eligible Summit County residents and 50% of Wasatch residents are fully immunized.
Deaths throughout the state have clearly decreased since vaccine appointments opened to Utahns in late March. But Stenjem said there has been a slight uptick in hospitalizations - though that’s not entirely due to coronavirus.
"By and large, the people that are coming into our hospitals with COVID-19, or the unvaccinated population, 95% of them," he said. "The other thing that we're seeing is that plenty of people put off healthcare for about a year. And so our hospitals are full with people that have, you know, medical illnesses, surgical illnesses that went unintended for a long period of time."
While most of Utah no longer has any restrictions on limiting capacity or face covers, Intermountain is still slowly easing restrictions. Stenehjem said hospitals are relaxing some visiting restrictions in the upcoming week but they’re still staying cautious of at-risk patients.
"That's what keeps me up at night," he said. "That's what makes me really concerned and worried. And it really is a delicate balance of pulling back, but also making sure that our patients are safe, and our caregivers are safe."
Starting Monday hospitals will allow visitors over the age of 12 and they’ll allow two bedside visitors in most instances including postpartum care.