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COVID-19 Transmission Is Up In Some Counties, But Statewide Cases Have Plateaued

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Angela Dunn at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 22, 2021.
Trent Nelson
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Angela Dunn at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Grand County was classified as having high COVID-19 transmission Thursday — the first county to be in the category in the past three weeks. Its average case rate over the past two weeks is almost four times the state’s case rate.

Utah Department of Health
Grand County’s case rate is 656 per 100,000 residents, while the state’s is 169. The next highest case rate is 282 in Rich County.

Washington County was upgraded from the low to moderate category, while Carbon and Sevier Counties were downgraded from moderate to low levels of transmission.

State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said health officials haven’t been able to tie increases in cases to anything in particular, including the repeal of the statewide mask mandate.

“We have seen an increase in the variants or the different strains of COVID-19,” Dunn said. “About 50% of our cases now are estimated to be due to B.1.1.7, which is the U.K. variant. And that is easier to transmit. It's easier to spread … We can't point to any one specific instance other than just communities spreading the variant.”

Across Utah, though, cases have been plateauing, Dunn said, unlike other states that have seen surges recently. She attributed that to Utahns wearing masks and social distancing, as well as an increase in vaccinations.

“The plateau is really good news,” she said. “But what's even better news is that our percent positivity is decreasing, which shows that we should start seeing a decline in our cases in the coming days and weeks because people out there getting tested are tending not to have COVID.”

Dunn urged Utahns to get vaccinated as soon as they can, as well as to wear masks and social distance, to prevent spikes that other states are seeing.

More than 1.2 million Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine — about half of the eligible population.

The state is now starting to have more vaccine supply than demand for a shot, Gov. Spencer Cox said. Salt Lake County is an exception to that trend, Cox said, so the state is sending more doses there.

“I hope that what we're conveying here is that so many of you are getting vaccinated and that the vaccines are safe and that the vaccines are effective,” Cox said. “For those of you who have not been vaccinated … I want to say that now is your time. We're ready for you. We have ample doses.”

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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