At the Wasatch County Council’s meeting Wednesday night, Wasatch County Public Health Director Randall Probst provided an overview of how the COVID guidelines have changed with the April 10 expiration of the Utah mask mandate.
Still, there remain social distancing and mask requirements in place for specific events.
Probst told the council there are regulations for organized events, which means gatherings of 50 or more people from different households.
"There's a section in here now that talks about fully vaccinated, so that that plays into the order in a couple of places,” Probst said. “And the other thing that's important is the definition of what is called an organized event. Organized event means an in-person gathering that is coordinated by an event host that is attended by 50 or more individuals, where the attending individuals are unable to physically distance six feet from one another or are not part of the same household."
An event host is defined as someone who owns, operates, or provides facilities for, or has oversight over events or activities such as dances, museums, special events.
Wasatch County is currently in the moderate transmission category. Probst said the current order requires hosts have a mechanism in place to verify the attendees are not in quarantine or experiencing symptoms. If people remove their masks while eating or drinking, a six-foot social distance is required. Probst said the health department is going over the new orders with every event applicant.
“This is where I think it gets a little more difficult, is the event host has to have a mechanism for identifying who attended, where they sat, who they were in contact with so that if there is a kind of an outbreak, they have to then do the contact tracing,” Probst said.
Probst plans to retire as Public Health Director on June 1. His replacement is Jonelle Fitzgerald, who has worked at the Wasatch County Health Department for 22 years in various roles.
She said the department has canceled the Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinics for this week and await direction from the Centers for Disease Control about when it can begin to administer the one-shot vaccine, which has come under scrutiny after several patients developed severe blood clots.
The health department has found that the J&J vaccine appeals to people who have transportation limitations or live in more distant parts of the county. The J&J vaccine clinic held last Saturday was successful.
"We didn't get a large number of people calling worried about it,” Fitzgerald said. “We did cancel our clinics. We are holding our mass clinic for the Moderna vaccine, and then we're finding out more about whether we will have some Pfizer vaccine to offer to students next week, to 16- and 17-year-olds."
Probst said that Covid case rates in the county dropped last week but began to plateau this week.
"So, it's not taking back off, but it's certainly there,” he said. “The real answer to that question depends on what these variants do 'cause that's what seems to be causing the surges. Again, it's more contagious, so it spreads more. And we're also seeing it affecting a younger population this time. It's more the 18- to 46-year-olds and 45-year-olds than it is the older population now."
Probst said they think the majority of the older population and at-risk groups are now vaccinated and therefore not affected by the new variants.
Moderna vaccine clinics are held on Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon through 6 at the Wasatch County Events Center. Appointments must be made by calling 435-657-3276.