The Utah Department of Health announced Tuesday that the state has met the COVID-19 thresholds outlined in HB 294, or the pandemic “endgame” bill, passed by the state legislature in March.
As of Tuesday, all public health orders are terminated. The inability for local governments to enforce health orders caused friction between state and local lawmakers during the legislative session, but the bill passed with a veto-proof majority in the state legislature in March.
The statewide thresholds outlined in the endgame bill included a 14-day case rate less than 191 per 100,000 people, a seven-day average COVID-19 ICU utilization of less than 15%, and more than 1,633,000 first doses of vaccine allocated to the state.
Currently, the 14-day case rate is 163 per 100,000 people, COVID-19 ICU utilization is at 11.2%, and over 1,656,000 doses of the vaccine are in the state.
Tuesday’s announcement also issues a new health order for K-12 schools, which includes continued testing for high school sports and other activities and also continues a mask requirement inside schools. Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough told the county board of health on Monday that young people make up a large portion of the state’s daily count of new cases.
“What is being reported at the state level is that the majority of these are in a younger population than we’re used to seeing and they are unvaccinated,” Bullough said. “Again, it’s really important to understand that this stuff can get young people and young people can get sick. Right now, 16 and above are eligible for the vaccine and we continue to encourage people to get that -- get the vaccine if you are eligible.”
According to Bullough and state data, new hospitalizations in the state are primarily coming from individuals in the upper end of the 25-49 year old age group.
The board of health said continuing vaccinations and vaccine outreach in order to maintain public trust after an anti-vaccine protest in Kamas last weekend should remain a top priority in order to keep the virus under control.
Bullough added that despite the inability to enforce public health orders, the county has been steadily creeping towards a “low” COVID-19 transmission index, something he says could happen in the coming weeks.
“We’ve been bumping down in Summit County right against moving into the low transmission index,” he said. “We’ve been expecting to move into low, but if you recall, when we were in high, I kept expecting to move into moderate. It tends to take a while, once you see the numbers, it’s about 14 days before you actually transition in. I think we will be at low depending, of course, on what happens with hospitalization and some of those state-level indicators, but our numbers are really good right now.”
The Utah Department of Health said the transmission index will remain in place, but will now just be a tool for individuals and businesses to use in order to stay safe and limit the spread of the disease.
As of Tuesday, the county health department reports that 82% of eligible people in Summit County have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 23,000 doses have been administered in Wasatch County.