327 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths, nearly 20K vaccinations reported Tuesday; Utah doctors encourage checkups, resume J&J shots – KSL.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases increased by 327 on Tuesday, with three more deaths and 19,908 vaccinations reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.

The health department estimates there are now 8,508 active cases of the disease in Utah. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 391, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the “people over people” method is now 6.2%. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the “test over test” method is now 3.2%.

There are 137 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 60 in intensive care units, state data shows. About 67% of all intensive care unit beds in Utah are occupied as of Tuesday, including about 69% of ICU beds in the state’s 16 referral hospitals. About 48% of non-ICU hospital beds are now occupied in Utah.

A total of 2,073,225 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, up from 2,053,317 Monday. A total of 1,268,341 have received at least one vaccine dose, and 891,418 are now fully vaccinated, according to the health department. About 53.3% of vaccine-eligible Utahns age 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, while 37.5% are fully vaccinated.

The 37.5% of those who are fully vaccinated can safely engage in outdoor activities without wearing masks, the CDC announced on Tuesday.

About 39.6% of all Utahns, including children younger than 16 who are not eligible to be vaccinated, have received one vaccine dose; 27.8% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated. A total of 2,369,410 vaccine doses have been shipped to Utah so far, state data shows.

The new numbers indicate a 0.08% increase in positive cases since Monday. Of the 2,538,247 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 15.6% have tested positive for the disease. The number of total tests conducted in Utah since the pandemic began is now 4,596,604, up 13,152 since Monday. Of those, 4,730 were tests of people who had not previously been tested for COVID-19.

The three deaths reported Tuesday were:

  • A Salt Lake County man who was over the age of 85 and was hospitalized when he died
  • A Washington County man who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
  • A Weber County woman who was between the ages of 25 and 44 and was hospitalized when she died

Tuesday’s totals give Utah 396,004 total confirmed cases, with 16,102 total hospitalizations and 2,186 total deaths from the disease. A total of 385,310 Utah COVID-19 cases are now estimated to be recovered.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s regular weekly COVID-19 news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.

Utah’s pandemic “endgame” bill, HB294, requires all state and local health orders to end on the day that Utah reaches the threshold in three areas: the state’s 14-day case rate is less than 191 per 100,000 people, the seven-day average of COVID-19 intensive care unit usage is under 15%, and 1,633,000 prime doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been allocated to Utah.

The state is currently meeting the benchmark in the first two areas. The 14-day case rate is now 167.2 per 100,000 people, and the COVID-19 ICU usage average over the past week is now 11.7%. A total of 1,436,345 prime vaccine doses have now been allocated to Utah.

The first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, as well as the sole dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are considered prime doses. The health department expects Utah to reach 1,633,000 prime doses by the middle of May.


University of Utah Health will resume Johnson & Johnson vaccine, addresses hesitancy

The University of Utah Health officials announced that they would be following CDC and FDA guidelines and resume administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week at their South Jordan and Farmington centers. The officials also noted that in line with CDC and FDA guidance they would be warning women under the age of 50 of the increased risk for unusual blood clotting disorders. The announcement came in a press conference on Tuesday with Dr. Richard Orlandi, associate chief medical officer for ambulatory health, and Dr. Andy Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases, addressing vaccine hesitancy.

University of Utah Health officials said there were several reasons why one might choose the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over Moderna or Pfizer, such as a fear of needles or issues with availability to take the time to receive two doses of the vaccine. Orlandi also pointed to the ease of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for health systems to transport and handle, making it ideal to bring to the individual and helping to vaccine more rural areas.

On the decision to briefly pause the Johnson & Johson vaccine, Orlandi said the decision came from “a terrific cadre of very intelligent infectious disease and epidemiology experts.” Orlandi said that in conjunction with the FDA and CDC analyzing the data, the University of Utah Health also weighed the risks.

“As we balance that decision to go back and resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we’re balancing the risk of getting COVID, of being in the hospital, of becoming very ill or even dying of COVID. That’s not an insignificant risk, and it’s a much higher risk than some of these even rarer complications from the vaccine itself,” said Orlandi.

He continued, “So with any medical intervention, with any drug that we give, there’s always pluses and minuses that any physician any health care provider will balance. In this case with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the benefit of the vaccine far outweigh the risks, but we want it to be respectful and cautious.”

The University of Utah Health officials pointed to CDC data which said that resuming the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all adults could prevent 600 to 1,400 deaths from COVID-19 and 4,000 to 10,000 hospitalizations, but could lead to 26 to 45 clots. Pavia said that physicians have been informed on how to recognize and treat the clots and he hopes that none would result in death. He also emphasized that there will only be approximately seven clots per million.

Both doctors also pointed to the higher risks of forming a clot in pregnancy, oral contraceptives, or even from COVID-19.

“Whether you get in your car, or get on a plane or do anything else, or walk down the street there are risks, and we have to balance those and I think the CDC and the FDA, and our experts here at University of Utah health have done a great job of examining that balance and we all feel comfortable moving forward with the J&J vaccine,” said Orlandi.

Bring kids in for well-child checkups, doctor says

Intermountain Healthcare medical professionals on Tuesday encouraged parents to make sure they are up to date on well-child checkups for their children.

Many parents put those appointments on hold earlier in the pandemic due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19. But now is a good time to reschedule any checkups for your children to make sure they’re up to date, said Dr. Donna Barhorst, medical director of Intermountain Medical Group Pediatric Services.

“This is the window of time that we really want to promote that kiddos get in,” Barhorst said in a Tuesday news conference.

Well-child checkups are designed to make sure a child’s overall well-being is in good shape, from nutrition to immunizations, Barhorst said. The checkups also provide parents with an opportunity to ask pediatricians any questions they might have about their child’s health.

Though the COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved only for people age 16 and older, it’s likely that federal regulators will approve the vaccine for use in the 12-15 age group sometime this summer, Barhorst said.

It’s recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine doses are administered at least 14 days before or after a person gets any other vaccines, Barhorst said. So it’s a good idea to bring children in for checkups so that any other overdue vaccines can be administered as soon as possible, so that any scheduling conflicts with the COVID-19 vaccine can be avoided, Barhorst added.

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