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New Contact Tracing System This Week, First Vaccines Next Week

Jonathan Maloney & Inga Beckmann

The state of Utah is launching a new contact tracing system this week and hopes to begin vaccinating health care workers next week.

“Beginning tomorrow, we are going to launch automated contact tracing. So some people who test positive will receive a text instead of a phone call from public health contact tracers," Dr. Angela Dunn said.

Dunn, the state epidemiologist, joined Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday to announce a new contact tracing system that will start being used on Friday. 

She said the text will include a link to a secure form where the person who tested positive can provide information related to the case. A phone number will be included in the text if they would like to speak to a case investigator.  

Utah reported 3,401 cases on Thursday, and 21 deaths. It was the third day in a row where the state reported over 20 deaths in a single day.  

Herbert said as the state receives vaccinations, school staff will also be prioritized to receive the vaccination as soon as they can. 

Rich Laken is the immunization program manager for the Utah Department of Health and spoke at the press conference highlighting the vaccination plan. 

“And by the end of the month, it’s possible we start immunizing people outside the initial focus o f hospital healthcare workers," he said. "This includes long term care facility staff and residents, non-hospital healthcare workers, and as the governor mentioned, school staff.”

Laken said it is expected 23,400 doses will arrive in the state the week of December 13, and will be sent directly to hospitals. More doses are anticipated to arrive later in the month.