Summit County issues COVID-19 advisory as case counts smash previous highs |

Summit County issues COVID-19 advisory as case counts smash previous highs

No question ‘we are in the grip of omicron,’ health director says

Pamela Manson
For The Park Record
The COVID-19 testing site at Park City High School.
Park Record file photo

The Summit County Health Department issued a formal advisory on Tuesday strongly encouraging people to wear masks and take other precautions through Jan. 31 against COVID-19.

Masking is more important than ever due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendation shortening quarantine and isolation periods to five days, according to the advisory.

The advisory is a response to the record-breaking transmission of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Utah and the nation, Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant said.

“There is no question that we are in the grip of omicron,” Bondurant said at a Summit County Board of Health meeting on Monday.

In a Tuesday news release, Bondurant said the county is facing one of the most critical times in the pandemic with its record high numbers of COVID. On Tuesday, Summit County saw 216 confirmed cases, nearly tripling the single-day high prior to the current surge, 79, set in January 2021. Case counts have exceeded 79 nearly every day since Dec. 23.

“While hospitalizations still remain the number one indicator, I implore our residents and visitors to take action to reduce transmission and the impacts of the Omicron variant,” he said in the release. “The winter season is important to Summit County for many reasons and we should all commit to doing what we can to protect those who live in, work and visit Summit County. We will continue to evaluate current trends as we look at the best options to get past this surge.”

Since the pandemic began, there have been 9,166 COVID-19 cases, 248 hospitalizations and 19 deaths in Summit County.

Utah has reported 651,746 COVID-19 cases, 27,723 hospitalizations and 3,804 deaths.

COVID-19 cases surged in the state over the holidays, with 14,754 new cases of coronavirus reported Thursday through Sunday, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Thursday showed the biggest increases during the four-day period, adding 4,659 that day to the statewide tally. Of those cases, 197 were confirmed in Summit County.

The Utah Department of Health reported 4,659 positive COVID cases on Thursday; 3,799 on Friday; 3,267 on Saturday; and 3,123 on Sunday. Of those, 94 were removed from the total count through data quality analysis.

School-age children accounted for 1,764 of the cases — 640 who are ages 5 to 10, 387 ages 11 to 13 and 737 ages 14 to 17.

The department also reported 17 new deaths and said 466 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. Vaccine doses administered in the four days totaled 23,327.

The county’s health advisory guidelines recommend that people:

• Wear a face mask, regardless of vaccination status, whenever indoors in public. Masks should always cover the nose and mouth, and the advisory notes that higher-quality masks, such as KN95s or KF94s, may offer additional protection.

• Stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness — regardless of vaccination status or past infection — and get tested for COVID.

• Get vaccinated and (if eligible) boosted.

• Avoid all large gatherings if they are not vaccinated and (if applicable) boosted.

Though Summit County has for months been the most vaccinated area of the state, only 33% of residents have received a booster shot, according to the advisory. Roughly half of children aged 5-11 remain unvaccinated, meanwhile.

“The COVID vaccines are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death,” the advisory says. “Because vaccine efficacy can wane over time, a booster dose is important to maintain protection.”

The health advisory also suggests following current guidelines on isolation and quarantine.

Utah public health officials say people who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home for five days from the day they were tested, even if they don’t have symptoms or feel sick. They can leave the house if symptoms have improved after five days, but they should wear a mask around other people for five days.

People who are exposed to COVID-19 should get tested five days after the exposure and wear a mask around others, according to the guidelines.

Those 18 and older who have had a booster dose or who had a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the past six months, or had a Johnson and Johnson vaccine within the past two months don’t need to quarantine after exposure but should wear a mask around others for 10 days. Those same guidelines apply to people younger than 18 who are up to date with vaccinations (meaning they’ve had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine).

“We understand the changing guidelines can be confusing,” Leisha Nolen, state epidemiologist at the Health Department, says in a news release. “Our knowledge of COVID-19, and especially the Omicron variant, changes rapidly. Data continues to show vaccination protects you from severe illness, which means fewer people miss work and school, or are at risk of hospitalization.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.