Doctors: Learn how to manage COVID-19 risk and get vaccinated

Feb 22, 2022, 5:24 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:48 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop in Utah, but the virus remains a threat to health care systems statewide.

On Tuesday, medical experts from the University of Utah advised everyone to be wise as they manage their own risk going forward.

Masks are still mandatory when you go into the hospital, or board a train or a plane. But, restrictions across the country are easing quickly, and people need to be cautious as they manage their own risk.

“While things are decreasing, we still do have COVID-19 in our hospitals,” said Dr. Kencee Graves, associate chief medical officer for inpatient health at U of U Health.

Hospitals remain busy with direct and indirect impacts from COVID, Graves said.

State data shows case counts dropping 50% since the end of January. But, Utah is still seeing rates of infection that are higher than what was experienced with the delta variant last fall.

“I think we know that COVID-19 is a risk,” Graves said in a media briefing Tuesday. “How we mitigate that risk and when really depends on our risk level.”

Hospitalizations across Utah have also dropped nearly 50%, but there are still more than 500 people hospitalized, which is just as high as the previous two peaks in the pandemic.

“While COVID might be waning in our community, we still do see effects here in the hospital. We appreciate our community doing the best they can to take care of us, and we will continue to serve,” Graves said.

Right now, there’s no new variant of concern emerging globally, or here in Utah. But, as long as COVID-19 is here at some level, those at high-risk will want to take precautions.

“During particular waves, it might make sense to continue to make the choice to use high-quality masks, to protect yourself, and there are other times where cases are quite low when you may not have to worry too much about that,” said Stephen Goldstein, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, U of U School of Medicine.

Use judgment, Goldstein said. If something makes you concerned, mask up.

“It is going to come down, I think, from this point forward, to personal risk calculations,” he said. “I think personally, those tools will still have an important role to play at times when circulation of the virus is high.”

The health experts reinforced that vaccines and boosters are still the best protection.

“I think it’s an individual choice, and we have tools at our disposal that we can be thoughtful about how to use,” Graves said.

If you, or others that you live with or see regularly, are at high-risk, the doctors suggest that you still mask up and keep your distance.
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