A fall COVID surge could still happen in Utah
Data: Utah Department of Health; Chart: Axios Visuals
Utah’s COVID hospitalizations are declining this September — but that doesn’t mean we’ve sidestepped a potential fall surge.
Driving the news: Fewer Utahns are hospitalized with COVID now than in late September of the past two years, state data show.
Why it matters: In previous years, COVID hospitalizations had begun to rise sharply by this time, following a rise in new cases with the onset of fall and the start of school.
- If hospitalizations stay low, it could mean we aren’t in for a big winter surge this year.
Yes, but: Fall and winter COVID surges haven’t followed the calendar exactly, which means a spike in cases and hospitalizations could still occur.
- Last winter’s biggest surge came in January with the omicron variant, and delta began circulating in midsummer, driving up cases even before school began in fall 2021.
- 2020’s fall surge began in mid-September, so a big increase in the coming weeks wouldn’t be terribly far behind.
By the numbers: Last week Utah saw about 18 COVID hospitalizations per day.
- That’s far below the 31 daily hospitalizations during the same week in 2020, and 59 in 2021.
- Hospitalizations have been dropping pretty steadily since mid-July.
What they’re saying: “We’re definitely trending in the right direction … but we’re definitely not through the thick of fall,” Dr. Angela Dunn, director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said in a statement to Axios. “Last year we had increases through October and into early November.”
- Health officials are urging Utahns to vaccinate and get the new bivalent booster and isolate if they are sick.
Of note: Public test sites have wound down and been replaced by at-home tests, so statewide case counts are not accurate.
- That means a big rise in hospitalizations could occur with little warning.