‘I have really significant concerns’: Doctors worry as school starts, delta variant surges

Aug 25, 2021, 7:11 PM | Updated: Aug 26, 2021, 6:09 am

SALT LAKE CITY — As the number of new COVID-19 cases in Utah, and across the country continues to surge, medical researchers at University of Utah Health warn that the situation will continue to get worse.

That’s what they saw in Wednesday’s numbers.

“The biggest concern, right now, is the large fraction of the population in Utah that remains completely unvaccinated,” said Dr. Stephen Goldstein, an evolutionary virologist and postdoctoral researcher at the U.’s School of Medicine.

The doctors said in a press briefing that if you catch COVID-19 now, you should assume that it is the delta variant, and that you are highly transmissible to the people around you. That presents real problems for those who are too young to get vaccinated.

“The vast majority of cases … 95% plus are due to the delta variant, which we know is more contagious,” said Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at U of U Health.

Right now, more than 1,000 Utahns are testing positive for the virus every day, and Utah’s hospitals are essentially full.

“Compared to what we faced last summer, and even over the winter, we are dealing with a virus that can spread much more quickly through the unvaccinated population,” said Goldstein.

Nearly one in four new cases is in school-aged children. Those cases are rising now, whereas case rates were dropping among children last year.

“Case rates in that age group are much higher than they were at this time last year,” said Spivak. “I have really significant concerns.”

The school year is just starting. Children are gathering, unmasked in most schools.

“I think we are going to see nothing but an increase, unfortunately, in that age group, and maybe even steepening of the curve,” the researcher said.

Primary Children’s Hospital is full now. That’s partly due to a loss of beds due to flooding, and also because children are hospitalized with other viral infections, including RSV.

“They are really stretched as far as they can be right now,” Spivak said. “So, we need to do everything we can to prevent rising rates of infections in kids.”

While masks are not mandated for kids in most districts, the researchers recommend it for kids in school to protect themselves, and those they come in contact with.

“The risk for getting COVID, and specifically for being hospitalized, or dying from COVID is really in the unvaccinated population. So we really need to make a plea with everyone to get vaccinated,” said Spivak.

Especially everyone old enough to get vaccinated to help protect those who are too young for the shot. She said it could be midwinter until the vaccine is available for children ages 5 to 11.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - Former state Rep. Michael DiMassa, left, arrives at U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., ...

Dave Collins

Former Connecticut lawmaker gets 27 months in prison for stealing coronavirus aid

A former Connecticut state representative has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from the city of West Haven.

3 days ago

Jennifer Anderton and Lisa Whittaker reunion...

Ashley Moser

Utah coma patient reunites with nurse who had ‘angel’s voice’

In January 2020, Jennifer Anderton was rushed to Lakeview Hospital’s Emergency Room with COVID-19 symptoms, unaware that her journey would turn into a two-week stay. 

15 days ago

Some lots of SD Biosensor, Inc. Pilot COVID-19 At-Home Tests are being recalled. (SD Biosensor, Inc...

Paradise Afshar and Nadia Kounang

Some Pilot COVID-19 At Home Tests recalled by FDA over bacteria risk

SD Biosensor is recalling all impacted tests, which were distributed by Roche Diagnostics to various retailers to stop the spread of Covid-19 infections.

28 days ago

FILE - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies...

Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer

CDC’s Rochelle Walensky resigns, citing pandemic transition

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, submitted her resignation Friday, saying the waning of the COVID-19 pandemic was a good time to make a transition.

29 days ago

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks to jour...

Maria Cheng and Jamey Keaten

WHO downgrades COVID pandemic, says it’s no longer emergency

The World Health Organization says that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency.

29 days ago

FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

Zeke Miller, AP White House Correspondent

US to lift most federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates next week

The Biden administration will end the last remaining federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements next week when the national public health emergency for the coronavirus ends.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

‘I have really significant concerns’: Doctors worry as school starts, delta variant surges