A record 7,290 cases were reported on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, for the state of Utah with 121 cases in Tooele County, one of the highest counts our county has ever seen during the pandemic, according to the Tooele County Health Department.
“This represents the highest daily COVID-19 case count we have seen across the state of Utah during the pandemic,” said the Tooele County Health Department in a statement released on Jan 5.
The Omicron variant accounted for 8.8% of all cases in Utah as of the week of Dec. 12, 2021. By the week of Dec. 26, 2022, the Omicron percentage grew to 82% of all COVID-19 cases in the state.
With the growth in Omicron variant cases, the state Health Department reported 24,147 new positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend on Monday morning.
“It is expected that we will see a steep increase of cases for the next six weeks before we see a decrease,” said Dacota Shell, COVID-19 public information officer for the Tooele County Health Department. “We will also see a lot of community spread with this variant and most likely breakthrough cases. We have to be careful in the coming weeks because it is hard to say when during the decrease it will be safe for high-risk individuals, and our general public as well.”
The large number of cases has caused a long line at the COVID-19 test station located at the Tooele park and Ride facility. Some residents reported on social media a waiting time of over two hours.
Symptoms of Omicron include back pain, headaches, and sore throats. Other symptoms are cough, congestion, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue, according to Shell.
Right now, it is too early to tell how the new variant is affecting hospitalizations and deaths.
“We have seen that this variant affects even those who are fully vaccinated, which is why we are strongly encouraging boosters,” Shell said. “We will be watching for trends with this variant closely.”
Last week, Summit and Salt Lake Counties implemented a mask mandate, because of their surge in Omicron cases. Shell said it is too early to know if a mask mandate or shutdown will be ordered in Tooele County.
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow the transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging, according to the Tooele County Health Department.
“We have the tools needed to prevent the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but they don’t work if people won’t use them,” said John Contreras, Ph.D, MSPH, deputy director/epidemiologist for the Tooele County Health Department. “If, for whatever reason, you have been putting off vaccination or getting boosted, it is imperative for you to do so now.”
Vaccines are the most important thing a person can do to protect themself, their loved ones, and their community, according to Health Department officials.
“Please get the vaccine!” said Jeff Coombs, executive director/health officer for the Tooele County Health Department. “Please wear a mask, avoid crowded locations, wash your hands often, stay home when you are sick or test positive for COVID-19. Everyone must do their part. We are all tired of this pandemic, health care providers are tired, and hospitals are at or beyond their capacity. We need the community’s help to make a difference and to keep people healthy and safe.”
Tooele and Stansbury High Schools are approaching the threshold of their 14-day running positive COVID-19 cases in students to implement the state Legislature’s mandate “Test-to-Stay” protocol.
For Tooele and Stansbury High schools the Test-to-Stay threshold is reached when the 14-day running total of positive cases among students reaches 2% of their enrollment.
The Test-to-Stay protocol calls for all students to be tested for COVID-19. Those that test positive are sent home for online learning during the health department’s recommended isolation period.
Tooele High School underwent Test-to-Stay in September 2021. A total of 1,404 students were tested, with parent permission. Out of those tested, 29 tested positive.
In Tooele County, since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 15,550 positive cases of COVID-19. There have also been 562 hospitalizations and 86 deaths from the virus, according to a report by the Utah Department of Health released Monday.