Skip to main content

Good Notes

Voices of U of U Health

Subscribe Now

COVID-19 Update, March 15, 2022

Mar 16, 2022

Click here for Spanish translation recording.

Transcript of Dr. Good's COVID-19 Update, March 15, 2022

Hello, and welcome to this week's COVID-19 video update. I'm Kencee Graves. I'm a physician here at the University of Utah. I'm also our in-patient chief medical officer. It's my honor to be filling in for Dr. Good, and hopefully this update is meaningful and helpful for you all.

I want to start with talking about our trends in the U.S. Our daily new cases have dropped quite precipitously, and we are at lower counts than we have been in quite some time. Our deaths are also dropping, though not quite as quickly, and that's not that surprising, since deaths are a late metric and follow new cases by several weeks.

Moving here to Utah, we're seeing a really similar trend. The top graph shows that our seven-day moving average is down to 169. As a reminder, we have been as high as over 10,000 in our last Omicron peak. Looking at daily deaths in Utah, we're also dropping, though again, not quite as precipitously. Both of these things are really great news. Moving to our person-over-person testing, we are currently at 6.51, so that's 6.5 of 100 tests that are done are positive. As a reminder, at the end of January, we are as high as 47 percent.

What we think about here in the hospital is how does that translate to patients that we are taking care of here. Again, you'll see at the end of January, early February, we peaked at about 2,300 cases. Here, we have dropped all the way down to a hospital admissions per day of just over 40, and a sum of 14 days in the 500s, so we are coming down from this curve very nicely  in the hospital as well as in the community. Looking at our daily COVID census, on this map, non-ICU COVID is green, and then ICU COVID is purple. This shows a very similar trend to the graph we just showed, and that is that things are coming down. So again, our daily hospital admission rate is in the 40s, so very, very good news.

What we have seen, interestingly though, in March, you'll see on the x-axis is that's the number of the week of the year, so we are now in March. This is the eleventh week of the year. What we have seen is some flu back in early January, and then a lot of flu lately, so we have 27 and 39 percent of tests have been positive for influenza. So while COVID is on the decline, what we're seeing is more flu, so anyone that has respiratory symptoms really should be tested for the flu as well as for COVID-19, because it is in our community and is spreading.

As a reminder, the CDC went to a different metric a few weeks ago. We used to use transmission level, and that was showing the U.S. as really orange, so high transmission. What we have changed to is the COVID-19 community level, and this is by county. There are three metrics that really measures the impact of COVID-19 on our health care systems. First is the new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 in the past seven days; the percentage of staffed in-patient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients; and then lastly, the total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.

If we look at Salt Lake City and we look at Utah, parts of our state are still yellow. What that means is medium, and we'll talk about what that translates and to how we manage that here in a moment. A lot of the state is green, which is low transmission. This is a little bit varied across the country, as you can see. There's still orange areas that are high community levels. If we look at how we can prevent COVID-19 by community level, if things are low or if the community level is green, it's recommended that you stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, and also get tested if you have symptoms. Medium, where we are here in Salt Lake County, if someone is at high risk for severe illness, it's recommended that you talk to your provider about the ability to wear a mask and take other precautions.

Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. We know, after several months living with COVID and living with vaccines, these help keep people out of the hospital and help prevents deaths. Then again, get tested if you have symptoms. We have talked here at the University of Utah about having a mask-friendly environment. People may choose to wear a mask regardless of the transmission level, for either themselves or someone they live with that's high risk of severe illness.

I want to transition to how we can learn to live with coronavirus. We're at a point now where our COVID community level is trending down. That's great news, and while things feel better for now, we still need to take steps to protect ourselves and protect others. This is the webpage. The most important thing we can all do to protect ourselves is to get vaccinated, and if you're eligible, get a booster. Boosters have been important through the Omicron wave, and we are watching how things progress across the world, so if we need to respond with a new wave, we can, but for now, the most important thing we do is to think about how we can keep ourselves safe and prevent further hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

In closing, thank you all for everything you have done to respond to the COVID pandemic over the last few years. I continue to be very proud to be here at the University of Utah and honored to be one of your colleagues. Thank you.


Kencee Graves, MD

Kencee Graves is Associate Chief Medical Officer for Inpatient Health at University of Utah Health. In this role, she works with clinical teams to improve the care of patients admitted to the hospital, including the U’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graves is an associate professor within the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine. She received an MD at the University of Utah and completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at the U.

DON'T MISS OUT. GOOD NOTES delivers to your inbox.