Why this one Utah county is now at medium risk for COVID-19

Utah is no longer solidly green on the country’s COVID-19 map with only low community levels of the virus now that Summit County case numbers and hospitalizations are on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. .

Summit County’s medium status, the only yellow on the Utah map, comes as other parts of the country, especially the northeast, are at high community levels for the virus. New York City has been put on “high COVID alert” by public health officials there, The New York Times reported.

Masking in indoor public places in New York is highly recommended, but New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who recently had COVID-19, said Monday, “We’re not about to mandate masks. because hospitals have not yet been overwhelmed with virus patients.

The CDC changed the way COVID-19 risk levels are calculated by county nationwide earlier this year after omicron sent case numbers skyrocketing. From now on, it takes twice the number of weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants, or 200, to be considered at a high level of transmission.

New metrics are also being considered by the CDC, including the number of hospital admissions for the virus as well as the number of hospital beds full of COVID-19 patients. These are seen as a more accurate representation of severity and help offset what is likely the number of suppressed cases as home test results are not reported.

Utah has replaced its own measures to determine risk with the CDC’s map as part of Gov. Spencer Cox’s ‘steady state’ response to the pandemic that has left most testing and treatment to providers private. The Utah legislature has restricted the ability of state and local public health officials to impose mask mandates or other measures.

Under the governor’s plan, the Utah Department of Health only updates the state’s COVID-19 numbers once a week, on Thursdays, so the department is waiting to see if more State counties are joining the Summit to move to a higher level of risk, spokeswoman Charla Haley said.

Cases are rising in Utah thanks to the same new versions of omicron spreading across the northeast. Last week, more than two-thirds of wastewater treatment sites monitored by the state for traces of the virus as a key indicator of spread showed elevated levels.

At the CDC’s mid-level, people at high risk are advised to consult with their healthcare provider about whether they should wear masks and take other precautions. The CDC now only recommends universal indoor masking for counties with high levels of transmission risk.

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