OGDEN — The weekly COVID-19 case counts in Weber, Morgan and Davis counties have spiked to their highest levels since the pandemic began earlier this year, surpassing the prior highs registered in mid-July.
It comes as the case count rises across the state, which prompted Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday to announce changes to guidelines governing the response to the pandemic.
In Weber and Morgan counties, overseen by the Weber-Morgan Health Department, the case count for the week ending last Saturday totaled 458. That’s up from 351 a week earlier and surpasses the prior high of 413 for the week ending July 18.
In Davis County, the case count for the week ending last Saturday reached 762, a big bump over the mid-summer high of 438, also registered during the week ending July 18. Davis County actually surpassed the July 18 figure during the week ending Oct. 3, when the weekly case count reached 544.
“Its definitely worrisome when you have numbers like that,” said Trevor Warner, spokesperson for the Davis County Health Department. “The surge,” he went on, “is definitely happening.”
On the positive side, Filip Roos, chief medical officer at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said the Washington Terrace hospital is able to handle the increased number of patients it’s seeing due to the spike.
“We are not overloaded with COVID-19 patients at this point. All patients at our hospital are safe and are being well provided with the care they need,” Roos said. Supplies of personal protective equipment and medications are “adequate,” he went on.
Still, the increase in cases is worrisome, Roos said, not only because of the implications to public health in the broader community but also because of the potential impact to healthcare workers. “An increase in COVID patients places additional strain on everyone at Ogden Regional. We are watching for, and taking steps to prevent, burn out, especially in our staff working in high-care areas,” Roos said.
Fatigue with mask guidelines and other restrictions meant to prevent COVID-19’s spread and the reopening of schools factor in the higher numbers, says Lori Buttars, spokesperson for the Weber-Morgan Health Department. But the full explanation for the increase goes further. Weber County accounts for most of the COVID-19 cases within the two-county Weber-Morgan Health Department coverage area.
“Our biggest concern is what people are doing after work and school. Social gatherings where people aren’t wearing their mask or staying 6-feet from others are a big problem,” Buttars said.
It’s easy to lower your guard around people you know well, she went on, but COVID-19 guidelines still need to be followed in such circumstances. “With numbers rising like they are, it’s still a good idea to be choosy about where you go and take the initiative to wear your mask even if no one else does,” Buttars said.
Similarly, Warner noted that around 67% of the cases in Davis County stem from contact between people who know each other — within households, perhaps, and among extended family members. On the flip side, he said, the hybrid system implemented by the Davis School District — with alternating groups of students attending school in person then staying home for online instruction — seems to have helped in limiting COVID-19 transmission. The system is gradually being phased out, despite what Warner says is its apparent success in keeping COVID-19’s spread in check.
The health officials call for continued attention to guidelines aimed at preventing COVID-19’s spread. Those who experience even mild cases should stay home, they advise, as well as those who have come in contact with COVID-19 patients.
During all visits to indoor places “you should be wearing a mask, no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Warner said. He worries if the uptick in cases continues, the health department’s ability to quickly handle contact-tracing duties will suffer, meaning delays in advising those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, potentially exacerbating its spread.