Top Utah health officials concerned about COVID-19 delta variant

Utah Department of Health Deputy Director Dr. Michelle Hofmann speaks at a news conference on July 7. She said the COVID-19 delta variant now accounts for an estimated 80% of cases in Utah. (KSL 5 TV)

Utah health officials hosted a news conference on July 7 to address Utah’s status as the sixth-worst state in the United States when it comes to COVID-19 case rates.

According to Dr. Michelle Hofmann, the Utah Department of Health‘s deputy director, the delta variant now accounts for an estimated 80% of cases in Utah.

Hofmann said the COVID-19 case rate in Utah is six times higher among unvaccinated than vaccinated people. 

According to health officials, the virus is spreading almost entirely among unvaccinated people. From May 1 to June 25 in Utah, 93% of new cases and hospitalizations, and 95% of deaths occurred in unvaccinated people.

“The frustrating part about all of this is that unlike last year, we have all of the tools to stop the pandemic in its tracks,” Hofmann said. “The COVID-19 vaccines work. We have made great progress in our vaccination campaign… but we frankly just need more people to be vaccinated.”

Hofmann said 70% of adults and 25% of kids ages 12 to 15 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

BYU sent an email out on July 7 encouraging students to get vaccinated and announced it will be offering  “vaccine-appreciation rewards” during the fall semester for vaccinated students. 

“BYU is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to protect our campus community from a COVID-19 outbreak,” the University Communications email said.

BYU sociology professor Kevin Shafer encouraged students to get vaccinated in the tweet below. “More vaccinated students means a more normal Fall Semester!”

He shared a flyer that advertises an event at Slab Pizza on July 15, when students can go get vaccinated and receive free pizza.

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