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If you tend to snort, a Utah medical expert advises skipping Thanksgiving gatherings with your family — and getting tested for COVID-19.
“One of the most important things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones during the holiday season is to recognize that there is significant overlap in the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms of the many other respiratory viruses now circulating. ” dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said.
For that reason, it’s important to test early and test regularly for the coronavirus, Webb said. If you’re not feeling well on Thanksgiving, “sit this one out.”
“It’s more important than family transmission, especially for those at higher risk for serious illness.”
According to Webb, about 80% of Utahns who die from COVID-19 “have chosen not to get vaccinated.” The remaining 20% are fully vaccinated and have breakthrough infections.
Webb noted that patients with breakthrough infections “have on average at least four or more different chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or emphysema, diabetes, obesity, heart disease. And a significant number of them have compromised immune systems.”
About one-fifth of those who die from breakthrough infections — about 4% of total deaths — “are immunocompromised patients who are unable to respond well to the vaccine.”
“We really need people to understand their risk and their risk factors,” Webb said. “If you have chronic medical conditions or have a body mass index of more than 30 and are an adult of working age or older, you are at greater risk of serious hospitalization, ventilation or death from COVID. And that’s the reality.”
Webb said Wednesday that hospitals in Utah are currently “bursting at the seams” with COVID-19 patients. The Utah Department of Health reported that 91.3% of all ICU beds in Utah and 94.5% of ICU beds in major medical centers in the state are occupied. (Hospitals consider any figure above 85% to be functionally full). Of all ICU patients, 43.6% are treated for COVID-19.
Webb advised Utahns who get together for Thanksgiving to do so in a large, well-ventilated area, to limit group size, to maintain social distancing and to wear masks whenever possible.
Thirteen more Utahns have died from COVID-19 in the past day. According to the health ministry, the coronavirus death toll in the state has now reached 3,470 since the start of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health also reported 1,804 new cases of coronavirus in the past day. The seven-day moving average of new positive cases stands at 1,480.
The number of children being vaccinated continues to rise – 61,485 children aged 5-11 have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since they became eligible; that’s about 16.9% of kids that age in Utah, according to the health department.
Last Day Vaccine Doses/Total Doses Delivered • 20,660 / 4,082,308.
Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,795,291 – 54.9% of Utah’s total population. That’s an increase from 2,092 in the past day.
Cases reported in the past day • 1,804.
Cases among school-age children • Children in grades K-12 accounted for 394 of the new cases announced Wednesday – 21.8% of the total. 229 cases were reported in children aged 5-10 years; 83 cases in children 11-13; and 82 cases in children 14-18.
Tests reported in the past day • 12,411 people were tested for the first time. A total of 25.134 people were tested.
Deaths reported in the past day • 13.
Salt Lake County reported three deaths: two men and a woman aged 65-84. There were also three deaths in Utah County — one man 25-44 and two men 65-84.
Three counties reported two deaths each — a woman 65-84 and a man 85-plus in Davis County; a man 45-64 and a man 65-84 in Washington County; and two women 65-84 in Weber County.
A man aged 85 or older from Cache County also died.
Hospital admissions reported in the past day • 530. That’s six less than Tuesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 206 are in intensive care, 11 fewer than reported Tuesday.
Percentage of positive tests • According to the original method of the state, the rate is 14.5% in the past day. That is below the seven-day average of 16.5%.
The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests from the same individual. Wednesday’s rate was 7.2%, lower than the seven-day average of 10.6%.
Risk ratios • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahns were 15.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to an analysis by the Utah Department of Health. The unvaccinated were also 9.8 times more likely to be hospitalized and 4.1 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.
Totals to date • 589,714 cases; 3.470 deaths; 25,643 hospital admissions; 3,927,926 people tested.