COVID-19 cases rise throughout Utah due to new BA.5 Omicron variant
COVID-19 cases are rising in Utah due to the new Omicron sub-variant. Here is what local Infectious Disease experts are seeing across the state.
COVID-19 cases are rising once again throughout Utah due to the BA.5 Omicron Variant, which health experts say is the most transmissible strain of Coronavirus yet. As of July 21, the Utah Department of Health confirmed the state of Utah has officially reached one million reported COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Diseases Physician, said the BA.5 Omicron variant is quite different from previous Omicron strains because this variant seems to be extremely contagious.
“We are definitely seeing very significant transmission across the state of Utah. Again, that case count data that we have is dramatically undercounted and so, we really have to look at alternative measures or complementary measures to really assess the state of transmission in the state of Utah,” said Dr. Stenehjem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven counties in Utah—including Salt Lake, San Juan, Summit, Tooele, Wasatch, Wayne, and Piute—are considered to have high COVID-19 community transmission levels.
Dr. Stenehjem said although the number of cases has risen dramatically, the BA.5 Omicron variant has not increased the numbers of deaths or severe ICU visits throughout the state.
“Deaths have not gone up significantly during this phase of the pandemic with BA.2 and BA.5. ICU levels have remained relatively flat So, patients requiring the most intensive support for COVID remain relatively flat.”
Dr. Stenehjem said individuals should use personal risk reduction strategies to battle contracting COVID-19. He said individuals who have underlying health issues and are in frail medical-conditions should still proceed with extra caution and wear a mask at this time regardless of their vaccination status.
“Masks may not be for everybody, but I encourage people, especially at high risk, to really focus on what they can do to reduce their risk of infection.”