COVID, Omicron: Why the risk of COVID-19 is now higher in 3 Utah counties

Two other Utah counties, Salt Lake and Weber, were upgraded to moderate risk for COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week as cases continue to rise in the state.

Earlier this month, Summit County was upgraded to medium or yellow status on the CDC’s statewide map measuring community transmission levels. The rest of Utah’s counties remain at low or green levels of transmission risk for the virus.

The CDC recommends that people at high risk of serious illness consult with their healthcare providers about whether they should mask themselves and take other precautions, including testing for the virus. Those who live or spend time with people at high risk should consider wearing a mask around them and getting tested.

Everyone should try to maintain improved ventilation in both private and public indoor spaces, the CDC said, and keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Both the first vaccinations and the first booster dose are available for people aged 5 and over. People over 50 or with certain medical conditions can get a second booster shot.

At the community level, health officials should step up protections, the CDC suggests, e.g. B. Conducting testing for people exposed to COVID-19 at work, school or other community settings. In Utah, testing and treatment shifted to private providers as part of Gov. Spencer Cox’s pandemic response.

Risk levels are determined by the CDC by county based on the number of weekly cases per 100,000 population, as well as the number of hospitalizations for the virus and the number of hospital beds filled with COVID-19 patients.

The way COVID-19 risk levels are calculated was changed by the federal agency earlier this year after the highly transmissible Omicron variant pushed cases across the county to record levels by adding hospital metrics and the number of weekly Cases per 100,000 population have doubled to hit a high level of transmission to 200.

The CDC updates its assessments daily, but new COVID-19 data now comes out of Utah only once a week. The Utah Department of Health reported Thursday that the state has seen an additional 5,611 cases of the virus over the past seven days, the average daily case count has risen by more than 25%, and there have been another dozen COVID-19 deaths.

Friday’s CDC map shows nearly 21% of counties across the country are now at moderate risk levels, up nearly 6%. Most counties, more than 71%, still have a low risk level, although that number has fallen by more than 4%.

While just under 8% of counties across the country have a high risk level where universal masking is recommended, many of these are in densely populated areas of the Northeast, which has been hit hard by the latest omicron subvariants, which are even more transmissible than the original mutation.

Most of the Intermountain West remains at low or intermediate risk, with the exception of a few counties in Montana and Colorado, which are at high risk. During last fall’s surge in the delta variant, the Intermountain West became the nation’s hotspot as this version of the virus spread from east to west.

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