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Health, Science & Environment

‘Pandemic Of The Unvaccinated’ — As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Salt Lake County Leaders Urge Residents To Get The Vaccine

A photo of Angela Dunn speaking at a podium.
Salt Lake County Health Department
With a surge in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people, Salt Lake County Health Director Angela Dunn recommended students under 12 wear masks when school starts in the fall.

Salt Lake County leaders are sounding the alarm about a rise in COVID-19 cases.

During a press conference Thursday, Dr. Angela Dunn, the health department’s new executive director, said cases in Salt Lake County have increased 20% over the past week.

She said that’s due to the more contagious Delta variant spreading among unvaccinated people, with those residents making up 97% of the county’s cases.

“COVID is once again surging in our Salt Lake County communities, but it's different than our surge last summer,” Dunn said. “This time, we've got very effective and safe vaccines. So it means that the pandemic is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

With the so-called pandemic “endgame” law in place, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said local governments are very limited in the restrictions they can implement.

So if people want a mask mandate in place, she suggested taking it up with lawmakers.

“Ultimately, the state Legislature can override the decision of our county council,” Wilson said. “For that reason, advocacy — if you believe and want further restrictions — needs to be to the state Legislature.”

In the meantime, Dunn said she’s focused on protecting people who aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

With school starting soon, she recommended all children under age 12 wear masks indoors.

“It'll keep our kids in a safe environment and allow them to have a full in-person learning experience,” she said. “Once all school-age kids have access to the vaccine, we won't need to recommend universal masking for unvaccinated individuals. But right now, it is our collective responsibility to protect those who don't even have the option of getting vaccinated.”

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