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COVID-19 Weekly Update, March 9, 2021


Click here for Spanish translation recording.

Transcript of Dr. Good's COVID-19 Weekly Update, March 9, 2021

Hello. I'm Michael Good, CEO of University of Utah Health presenting the COVID-19 update for March 9, 2021. As in prior weeks, we continue to see positive trends both in the nation, in the state, and locally, with new cases in the country, continuing to decline, especially when you look at a seven-day rolling average, and deaths from coronavirus also continuing to decline in our nation. Similarly, here in the state of Utah, the number of new cases continuing to decline to some of the lowest levels we've seen in months. Overall, deaths from coronavirus in our state also continue to decline, whether reported at the national level or by our State Department of Health. The difference we see in these charts depends on, when it is determined someone passed away because of COVID, whether it's added to that day’s total or added to the day when they passed away. In either event, deaths from coronavirus are declining in our state.

Active infections are declining in our state and now down under 15,000, actually under 14,000. A couple months ago, it was one out of every 50 Utahns with an active infection. Now, well over 200, one out of 200 Utahns with an active infection, so continuing positive decline in active infections. As reported in previous weeks, very small amounts of coronavirus present in our university community, single digits now for virtually all of the semester to date. Only 700 cases in the current semester. We had almost 2,500 last semester. We're more than halfway through the semester now, so very low levels of coronavirus at the University of Utah.

Hospitalization trends across our state also continue with fewer people in the hospital, fewer people admitted to the hospital, and fewer people in intensive care units-- fewer cases being positive each day. All the trends, positive cases, hospitalization, ICU, and daily admissions, all declining. Same true here at University of Utah Hospital with fewer and fewer admissions for COVID-19 at our hospital and fewer and fewer patients present each day in our hospital, now averaging around 20 or so COVID patients at University Hospital.

The vaccination program by our state, which initially emphasized those over 80 and then those over 70, now approaching 80 percent vaccination for those groups. Really strong work by our County Health Department, our State Department of Health, and others. A little over a month ago, 65-year-olds were added to those who could be vaccinated. You see that for that age group, now over 40 percent having been vaccinated. Just in the last week, the governor has stepped that back now to 50-year-olds and up. We see the vaccination percentage beginning to step up for that group. It's just been a few days, but with about 20 percent of 50-year-olds and above now vaccinated.

Here is the vaccination chart or tally board, if you will, with the number of vaccines that have been delivered to our state, how many Utahns have received one dose, how many have received either two doses of the two-dose vaccine or one dose of the one-dose vaccine. State is doing a really good job of administering vaccine. As you've seen in some of the news, we aren't getting as much vaccine as we should, and our state leaders are working on that. In fact, we are seeing increased supplies last week and this week in the vaccines being delivered to our state.

This is the chart that we've left you with for several months now in the pandemic, these practices of masking, sanitizing, particularly hands, distancing, physical distancing from one another, and staying home when ill. These still apply. I really strongly encourage you to continue these. These are true, proven public health practices. As an aside, we're seeing essentially no flu this year. Our children are not experiencing respiratory syncytial virus and other illnesses that put many of them in the hospital. We're just not seeing that this year, and many attribute it to these practices.

However, I want to call your attention to a guidance that's recently been issued by the CDC. As more and more of our population becomes vaccinated, this is a very, if you will, awkward time where some of our citizens have been vaccinated and others not. Hopefully, we'll quickly be to the day when all our citizens have been vaccinated. In-between, the CDC, our state government, and others are trying to balance things that are possible once an individual has been vaccinated. These include meeting indoors in small gatherings without masks or distancing when the unvaccinated member of a single family household is at low risk. That's important.

All of these, I would encourage you to read, the CDC guidance, for the specifics because the specifics matter. Those that are vaccinated, if they do have an exposure to an individual with a coronavirus infection, do not need to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. I do want to call your attention to the fact that these recommendations are for non-healthcare settings. In the healthcare setting, we continue to mask and our other practices, disinfectant practices, hand hygiene, and so on. These new CDC guidelines apply to non-healthcare settings. Again, the specifics are important.

I also point out that immunocompromised individuals or others with special health needs should consult their physician or their provider to understand what they should and shouldn't do as we go through this period where many citizens are vaccinated, but many more citizens, at the moment, are not vaccinated. If you're vaccinated, you continue to take precautions in public, including masking and physical distancing. If you're visiting individuals or groups of individuals who have not been vaccinated, again, masks are important in those settings.

Remember I said in the last slide, if there's a household member who's not been vaccinated but is low risk, the opposite is true as well. If there's a household member who's not been vaccinated and is at high risk, masks, physical distancing should still be practiced, and similarly, in families or in household settings where multiple families or multiple households are gathering. Again, we should, at this time, continue to avoid particularly large groups and even medium-sized groups. The previous recommendations that I shared are for small groups. Anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms, respiratory symptoms, and flu-like symptoms should continue to isolate and get tested to determine the nature of their illness, follow specific guidance of employers, and follow specific CDC and health department guidelines for travel.

Again, this is all evolving very quickly as more and more individuals get vaccinated. It's going to be really important that we all pay attention and keep up with the changing guidelines as we enter what are hopefully the final months of this current coronavirus pandemic. I leave you with this slide which, in the upper left corner, shows the individuals for which vaccines are now available and these individuals should seek vaccination. I show in the lower left panel, the local health departments and their contact information. Then as we've reported the last few weeks, the sites that Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah, and non-health are providing vaccinations as well.

The sooner we get, essentially, all of our Utah population that's desiring a vaccine vaccinated, the more quickly we will be able to continue some of the practices that I outlined related to being, for example, in small groups without masks and so on. Favorable trends continue. They've been sustained for several weeks. We will plan to update you again in two weeks on March 23, unless things change. If these positive trends continue, look for our next update in two weeks on March 23. In the meantime, stay positive, test negative.


Michael Good, MD

Michael Good is CEO of University of Utah Health, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and A. Lorris Betz Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. A professor of anesthesiology, Good joined U of U Health after more than three decades of teaching, innovation, and leadership at the University of Florida, where he served as dean of the College of Medicine for 10 years.

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