SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 vaccine may soon be coming to a business, workplace or church near you.
Starting Thursday, organizations will be able to host their own free mobile vaccination clinics, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox announced during a COVID-19 news conference.
The state has reached the point where supply of the vaccines is now outpacing demand, so state officials hope to boost demand by making the vaccine available for wherever is most convenient for people, Cox said.
"We hope that this will really jumpstart a new wave of demand," he said.
More information about how to host a clinic is available at coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine-event-request.
Mass vaccination clinics will still be available at places like the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City and the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy, but this will give people more options, the governor said.
"We want to make it as easy as possible," Cox said. "We want to take away any excuses."
Thursday marked two weeks since the governor received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, meaning that he is now considered fully vaccinated.
He encouraged other people who are fully vaccinated to "act like it" and start doing all the things they haven't been able to do for the last year.
"Please go outside, take your mask off, go outside, enjoy this incredible weather," Cox said.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn provided a COVID-19 pandemic update at a news conference Thursday. Watch the replay of the event below.
Still room for improvement in Utah's vaccine equity
Vaccine access is improving for Utah's most vulnerable groups, but there is still inequity.
About 39% of Asian Utahns have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to about 25% at the beginning of the month, according to Cox. About 31% of Hispanic Utahns now have at least a first dose, compared to about 17.5% at the beginning of the month.
The percentage of Black Utahns with at least one vaccine dose has improved from 13.1% to 21% over April, and the rate for the state's population of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders has improved from 15.2% to 21% in April, the governor said.
"We're excited to see those changes there," Cox said.
However, about 48.7% of white Utahns have at least one dose, far outpacing any other ethnic group, according to Cox.
About 88% of Utahns age 70 and older have now received at least one vaccine dose, and 78% are fully vaccinated, Cox added. Among Utahns aged 65 and older, 86% now have at least a first dose, and 75% are fully vaccinated.
State officials hope that more mobile clinics will continue to improve the vaccine equity gap, as they anticipate working with churches, community organizations and other groups to schedule mobile clinics, Cox said. About 25,000 prime vaccine doses have been set aside for next week for the clinics, the governor added.
Additionally, the state will move toward more vaccination centers that accommodate walk-ins, instead of requiring appointments, Cox said. The Salt Lake County Health Department will offer walk-ins at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 3-7 next week.
A law that Cox enacted in early January that required vaccine providers to use every dose within seven days has now been rescinded, the governor said.
"We hope you will all choose to get the vaccines," he said.
New COVID-19 cases
Utah's number of COVID-19 cases increased by 463 on Thursday, with seven more deaths and 26,895 vaccinations reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.
All seven of the deaths reported Thursday occurred before April 1 but were still being investigated by state medical examiners, the health department said.
There are now an estimated 8,388 active COVID-19 cases in Utah. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 380, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "people over people" method is now 6.5%. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "test over test" method is now 3.5%.
There are 142 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 61 in intensive care, state data shows. About 73% of all intensive care unit hospital beds in Utah are now occupied, including about 77% of ICU beds in the state's 16 referral hospitals, according to the health department. About 55% of non-ICU hospital beds are now occupied in Utah, state data shows.
Although more people are getting vaccinated, there are still 20-30 new people being hospitalized for COVID-19 each day, Cox said Thursday.
It's nothing like the winter surge last year, when around 40% of people in ICUs were COVID-19 patients, Cox said. Now, the percentage of ICU beds that are occupied by COVID-19 patients is typically 10-12%.
Cox said the hospitalization data is a reminder that the pandemic is still going on, and people still need to take precautions.
"Protect yourself and get vaccinated," he said.
A total of 2,124,832 vaccine doses have now been administered in the state, up from 2,097,937 Wednesday. A total of 1,288,022 Utahns have now received at least one vaccine dose, and 924,158 are fully vaccinated. A total of 2,478,600 doses have been shipped to the state so far.
Thursday's vaccination statistics show that 40.2% of all Utahns have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 28.8% are now fully vaccinated. Among Utahns age 16 and up who are currently eligible for the vaccine, 54.2% have received at least a first dose, and 38.9% are fully vaccinated.
The new numbers indicate a 0.1% increase in positive cases since Wednesday. Of the 2,551,765 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 15.6% have tested positive for the disease. The number of total tests conducted in Utah since the pandemic began is now 4,629,348, up 16,041 since Wednesday. Of those, 6,402 were tests of people who hadn't previously been tested for COVID-19.
The seven deaths reported Thursday were:
- A Cache County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when she died
- A Davis County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when he died
- A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Salt Lake County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when she died
- A Sanpete County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Utah County County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Weber County woman who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was not hospitalized when she died
Thursday's totals give Utah 396,985 total confirmed cases, with 16,158 total hospitalizations and 2,197 total deaths from the disease. An estimated 386,400 Utah COVID-19 cases are now estimated to be recovered, according to the health department.
Beaver, Morgan and Duchesne counties moved from the moderate COVID-19 transmission level to the low level Thursday under the state's transmission index system. Sixteen counties are now in the low level, which is the most in that level since the state began using the index system last year, Cox said.
Grand County remains at the high transmission level. Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Iron, Salt Lake, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Wasatch, Washington and Weber counties are at the moderate level, and all other counties in the state are now at the low level, according to the health department.
More information about Utah's health guidance levels is available at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-health-guidance-levels.
Information is from the Utah Department of Health and coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts. For more information on how the Utah Department of Health compiles and reports COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and scroll down to the "Data Notes" section at the bottom of the page.