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COVID-19 Update, November 9, 2021

Nov 10, 2021

Click here for Spanish translation recording.

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

Hello, I'm Michael Good, CEO of University of Utah Health, presenting the COVID Update for November 9, 2021. And after following a plateau here in Utah, as you'll see in the trends and charts I show in this report, we unfortunately are seeing an increased level of transmission of coronavirus here in Utah and in our community. First though, we look to the national charts and we see that after a period of new cases declining, you can see that that's leveled off. The seven-day moving average is about 70,000 new coronavirus cases each day in our country. At the national level, we've had declining deaths per day from coronavirus, though still a seven- day moving average of about 1,000 Americans dying from coronavirus each day. So although the national trends are either heading down or the new cases here appear to be stabilizing, still have a long ways to go if you think about 1,000 deaths each day in our country from COVID-19.

As I mentioned, here in Utah after this period here where we had a plateau, I described it as a plateau with a declining slope. The last week or week and a half, that trend has reversed and we're now seeing almost 1,700 new coronavirus cases in our state each day. And similarly, the number of deaths shown on the lower panel has been hovering between eight, nine, or 10 a day. The seven-day moving average, we've had a couple of down days here, as we have in other points here that I'm marking with red. But still, eight, nine, or 10 Utahns on average, a lot of day to day variability, dying of coronavirus. But, certainly, I'm not pleased to see this uptrend in our case counts occurring at this point in the pandemic. Another sign of increased virus transmission, if we get in our charts from Dr. Zhang and Dr. Samore, and a shout out to both of them who continue to follow this pandemic with sophisticated tools of epidemiology and biochemistry.

So recall a small movement of reproductive number above or below one mean the virus is either accelerating or declining in its transmission in our community. And after this period here, where the reproductive number here was a little bit below one, and then it rode right around one for a while. And as you can see, unfortunately, in the last few weeks really has stepped off, and particularly this tail on the end is worrisome, shown here on the inset with much better day to day resolution. Again, just another sign that the virus transmission is increasing, not decreasing in our community. Testing positivity, same thing. After a period of up, down, up, down, but certainly, operating in a range, both the people-over-people methodology and the test-over-test methodology showing increases in the last week or so.

So far, our daily admissions continue on a down trend. The blue line is a 14-day summation of all of the admissions over the preceding 14 days in our state. That continues down, although we've seen quite a big increase in the last few days. And in fact, the number of patients in Utah hospitals and the number of patients in Utah ICUs has also bumped up. Both of these bumping up about 15 to 18 patients just in the last few days. We now have just under 600. I think today's count is somewhere around 580 to 590 Utahns are in a Utah hospital and of that group that are in the hospital, 220 to 230 are in an ICU. So, again, a plateau with breaking trends in the wrong direction. Here at University Hospital, we've also seen fewer people admitted to our hospital with coronavirus, except, again, you see in the last a week or so that trend reversing with more admissions on that 14-day summation statistics.

So far, our census, we hover now around 40 active coronavirus patients and, remember, we have another 20 or 25 patients who are in the hospital still dealing with complications from their hospitalization with COVID and they've been in the hospital so long they're no longer infectious. So they don't count as active COVID cases, but they still are in the hospital in many cases dealing with severe illness. I rounded in the hospital in the evening time last week and saw just how hard our nurses and respiratory therapists, our pharmacists, our doctors, our healthcare teams are working to care for the, again, 40 or so active COVID patients plus another 20 or 25 patients who are dealing with complications from COVID. A continued shout-out for their great work. We've emphasized the importance of vaccination many times in these reports and, again, the unvaccinated group has really seen an acceleration of virus transmission from really the last couple weeks or so. You can see that here.

There had been a decline in COVID disease even among the unvaccinated, but that trend really, look it, we've gone from 60 active cases per 100,000 to now closing in on 90 just in a period of a day. Sorry, I drew that circle wrong. It should be here. So around 60 per 100,000 to 90 per 100,000 in the unvaccinated. Slow up drift on the vaccinated, but here we are, we're down at 20. So almost one-fourth, one-fifth the positivity rate in vaccinated individuals and far, far less hospitalizations and very, very few deaths. So the importance of vaccinations cannot be emphasized enough. Although many individuals who are vaccinated are getting their boosters, this chart worries me. Fortunately, it's leveled off, but this is the first-dose vaccine administered by the day, and you can see that it's just been declining and then finally leveled off.

We need to continue to encourage those who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated. It will minimize the chance of getting infected with coronavirus, and if you get coronavirus, far, far less chance of being hospitalized or dying from coronavirus. So, cannot emphasize that enough. And then since our last update, as hopefully you've followed in the news, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children over the age of five. And on our charts, we can begin to see the five to 11 year olds just in the last few days have been able to be vaccinated. I know many of my colleagues and friends and family members have been quick to get their young children vaccinated. Flu viruses, viruses like the coronavirus do circulate among children. Often, the children are not affected. They have no symptoms or minimal symptoms. So this is a very important group to get vaccinated now that the vaccine has been approved.

Also, on this chart you'll see continued really strong vaccination in the 60, 70, and 80 year-old groups. Pretty good in 50, and then it begins to decline from there. So we'll continue, as I showed in the previous chart, really continue, these groups we need to continue to really emphasize continued vaccination for those over 65, those with medical conditions, and those in settings where they have high exposure, boosters are now encouraged. So that's our report for November 9th, 2021. Again, please continue to do the things that we need to do. I don't like to see these increasing rates and hopefully we can get them turned back around so that in our next report we'll see things either leveled off or hopefully declining. Thank you. Stay safe.


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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