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Wasatch County ends 2021 in COVID-19 spike, ‘high’ COVID-19 transmission

Wasatch County’s back in the “high” category for COVID-19 transmission after spending about a week at the “moderate” level. According to the county health department, the county’s in for another wave of cases as the omicron variant arrives and school returns.

When Wasatch County dropped to the lower transmission category in late December, the county health director predicted it would be “short lived.”

Sure enough, last week’s numbers showed a spike to end the year. On Wednesday, Wasatch County reported 72 cases, just one shy of its single-day high in December 2020.

“So far, this past week, the majority of our cases have been in young adults, mostly,” said Jonelle Fitzgerald, Wasatch County health director. “As school goes back following the holiday break, it wouldn’t be surprising to see increases in school cases.”

Wasatch County students go back to school Wednesday, Jan. 5.

Fitzgerald said the best defense against the highly contagious omicron variant is for people to be fully vaccinated and boosted. Everyone five and up is eligible for the vaccine, and on Monday, the FDA approved booster shots for children ages 12 and up.

In Wasatch County, 55% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Fitzgerald said while many of those who got their first doses in December were children, some were adults who’ve been eligible for months and only recently decided to get the shot.

“We’re providing as many clinics as we can get people to come to, but we continue to have folks who are receiving first doses come in as well as folks coming in for booster doses,” Fitzgerald said. “So, vaccine rates - even though I guess it has plateaued, I feel like as time goes on and folks are a little bit more comfortable with the vaccine, we continue to see more people vaccinated, and that’s a good thing.”

She said her office follows data from South Africa and the United Kingdom, where the Omicron variant has been rampant for longer. Clinical trials there suggested two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work about 35% of the time against the Omicron variant, whereas 75% of those who had a booster had immunity.

“Best case scenario is, it goes through the population, we’re adequately protected, everyone recognizes risks and avoids large crowds, avoids mass gatherings, is careful with their contact with others,” Fitzgerald said. “Stay home when you’re sick. For folks who are at risk, be extra careful. Test early if you get symptoms, and that will allow for treatment. We do have treatment available.”

But even if they do, she added, the variant will be hard to keep contained.

The Wasatch County Health Department holds testing clinics every Saturday at the Wasatch County Event Center at 415 Southfield Road. Tests are also available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

To find out where to get vaccinated or a booster dose, visit vaccines.gov.

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