CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 Indicators Drop But New Variants Are Concerning

Jan 28, 2021, 6:30 PM | Updated: 8:14 pm

FILE (KSL TV)...

FILE (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Doctors at University of Utah Health have seen a significant drop in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, but they warned that community transmission remains high and variants are raising new concerns.

As ominous as it sounds, some people may want to consider double masking.

Key indicators of COVID-19 in Utah are improving. Even the positivity rate, which peaked at 33% in early January, is now below 20%.

“It’s still a very high rate, but the trend is definitely going in the right direction,” said Erin Clouse, strategic engagement manager at U of U Health. “We’ve seen that trend come down pretty steep. It’s still pretty high, though — it’s 20% now. So one out of five people seeking a COVID test is positive.”

A positivity rate under 3% would indicate the virus is under control.

“A positivity rate of 20% is outrageously high,” said Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at U of U Health. “What that means is that there are a lot of people out there in the grocery store who have COVID.”

For now, though, the hospital overload is easing.

“The good news is, we’ve seen a significant reduction in new admissions,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief medical operations officer at University Hospital. “We had been averaging as high as 12 new COVID patients per day towards the end of November. That’s down to about seven new COVID admissions per day.”

Earlier this week, the hospital was able to close half of the ICU surge areas they had been using to handle that overwhelming volume of patients.

“We’re not having to staff the entire surge ICU which is a great relief to our providers who have been working so much extra time to take care of these patients,” said Vinik.

They are still busy at 99% of ICU capacity in their hospital. Plus, the arrival of new COVID-19 variants threatens the positive trend.

“The British B1.1.7 variant is here, has been detected here. How prevalent it is, we don’t know,” said Swaminathan.

Once the variants start spreading, “Some people predict they will become the predominant strain, as it has done in the U.K. very rapidly,” he said.

Should we be double masking?

“The more material, the more filters the more virus is going to get trapped in those filters,” said Vinik. “So, that’s the upside for double-masking.”

It also creates a tighter fit.

”Masking works, and more than anything, our message to the public is wear a mask, and wear a mask properly,” said Vinik.

The doctor said double masking is not a bad idea for those who want to do everything possible to protect themselves or those at higher risk.

“Double masking might be helpful. But certainly more than anything, just wear a mask and wear it properly,” said Vinik.

The doctors agreed that dropping case counts and hospitalizations are a sign that our positive actions are making a difference.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

9 days ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

2 months ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

3 months ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

4 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

5 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

COVID-19 Indicators Drop But New Variants Are Concerning