OGDEN — Utah County isn’t alone in experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases stemming from a rise in infections among young people and students.
Davis County’s case count for the week ending last Sunday jumped to 413, up from 334 the week before and not far off the high so far of 438 in mid-July, when the state previously experienced a spike.
“There are a lot more events going on that are happening in schools,” said Davis County Health Department spokesperson Trevor Warner, citing high school football games, among other things. He further noted a “tired-of-COVID mindset” that’s caused some to relax their vigilance, also contributing to a rise in numbers.
In Weber and Morgan counties, new cases for the week ending Sunday reached 263, lower than the 269 from the prior week, but still above the post-July low of 150 in the week ending Aug. 15. The weekly high for Weber and Morgan counties occurred during the week ending July 18, when the count reached 413.
“Like everywhere else, we’ve seen a little bit of an uptick. Some of it was expected as schools opened,” said Lori Buttars, spokesperson for the Weber-Morgan Health Department. Aside from the reopening of schools, there’s nothing else to really account for the rise, though she lauded the schools in their efforts to keep a check on COVID-19 via mask requirements and other measures.
Despite their jumps, neither jurisdiction has experienced the sort of spike seen in Utah County, where officials last week beefed up COVID-19 restrictions to contend with the uptick. There the case count reached 2,819 for the week ending Sunday, up more than three times since the 920 cases for the week ending July 18, when the prior statewide COVID-19 spike occurred. The 2,819 new cases compares to 2,492 new cases for the week ending Sept. 19, 1,347 for the week ending Sept. 12 and 838 for the week ending Sept. 5.
In response to the Utah County uptick, state leaders announced last week that Utah County would be reverting to a more restrictive slate of COVID-19 guidelines, from the yellow level as set out in Utah Department of Health standards to the orange level. At the same time, Utah County commissioners implemented a countywide mask mandate to help quell the number of COVID-19 cases. A Utah County Health Department representative didn’t immediately return a call Monday seeking comment on the matter.
Weber, Morgan and Davis counties remain at the less-rigorous yellow level for COVID-19 guidelines. But with COVID-19 case counts on the rise, officials aren’t letting up on the standing advice to mask up and maintain social-distancing. Restrictions may be less than when the COVID-19 pandemic first started taking off last March “but the risk for the virus isn’t,” Buttars said.
Similarly, Warner said health officials will closely be watching as Davis School District schools start transitioning this week to four-day-a-week in-person schooling to see if that impacts the COVID-19 case count. Davis County schools have been offering in-person school only twice a week, Warner said, with virtual teaching the other days.
GET YOUR FLU VACCINEMeantime, the Weber-Morgan Health Department is putting the call out to the public to get vaccinated for the flu. The department starts a vaccination push this time each year, but there’s added urgency this go-round because of COVID-19.
Buttars warned of the potential health risks of having flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Moreover, vaccinating will help health officials in trying to distinguish between potential flu and COVID-19 cases going forward, said Cheryl Andreasen, a registered nurse in the health department. The indicators of the two ailments are similar, so if someone starts exhibiting symptoms, that they’re vaccinated will serve as an aid in potentially ruling out flu as a possibility.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department is sponsoring a drive-thru flu shot clinic on Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the parking lot of the department at 477 23rd St. Most insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine and participants are advised to bring their insurance and Medicare/Medicaid cards. Otherwise, cost is $30 for injectable shots, $35 for flu mist and $60 for the special vaccine recommended for those over 65.
The health department will be following up with flu shot clinics starting Monday at elementary and junior high schools in the Ogden and Weber school districts, open to students, parents and neighbors. Vaccines are available at reduced cost to those under 18 who don’t have insurance.