COVID-19 Cases Dropping, But County Leaders Say ‘This Is Not Over’

Mar 24, 2021, 5:15 PM | Updated: 9:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As new cases of COVID-19 trend downward along with hospitalizations and fatalities, Salt Lake County wants to keep up the progress and urged people to hold on to that mask even after getting vaccinated.

On Wednesday, county leaders shared their optimism and hope and tackled today’s toughest questions about the virus and the vaccines.

“We are in the 55th week of battling COVID-19 in our community,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “We are getting closer to getting life back to what we used to know, but we are still facing challenges due to COVID-19.”

Now that the vaccine became available to all Utahns 16+, Wilson and her COVID-19 team recognized that there’s a lot of talk about the virus and the vaccines in the community, and not all of it is accurate. They offered answers in a Facebook live presentation.

Those 16 and older are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but in Utah County, they are already poking arms in this most recent rollout because appointments opened last Thursday.

The mayor and Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, were relieved to see a 79% drop in new cases since January, as well as declines in the positivity rate, hospitalizations and deaths.

“The efforts that have been put in place, and the individual efforts of the residents of Salt Lake County and the residents of Utah are paying off,” said Edwards.

So far, nearly 500,000 people in Utah’s most populous county have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“That gives us hope and optimism as we move into the summer. But we have to remember that this is not over,” said Edwards. “We still don’t have an adequate proportion of the population vaccinated.”

Naturally, many want to know when can we stop wearing the masks?

“The information tells us that when we’re out, we should wear face coverings, especially those who have not been vaccinated, and then those of us who have, to protect the general public for some time,” said Edwards.

Fortunately, when vaccinated, most people report nothing more than mild side effects that include arm soreness, and maybe mild fever and aches that go away in about a day.

They reminded the public that each of the three vaccines available now in Utah is a good option, and very effective.

“Don’t worry about what vaccine it is,” said Edwards. “Just take the first opportunity to be vaccinated.”

So far, the vaccines appear effective against variant strains of the virus. But Utahns may need a booster in the future.

As far as vaccinating children under 16, Edwards was hopeful that by the beginning of the school year, one of the vaccinations will be approved for children 12 to 16. In the meantime, they urge adults to get their vaccination.

“All adults are now eligible for the vaccine and we have appointments,” said Wilson. “So, sign up.”

Edwards said the county is capable of delivering twice as many vaccines each day when more vaccine is available.

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COVID-19 Cases Dropping, But County Leaders Say ‘This Is Not Over’