SALT LAKE CITY – Health officials say Utah has "passed the plateau" when it comes to new COVID-19 cases. They reported the number of new cases took a significant drop, and they have reason to believe the numbers will keep falling.
State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said Utah's current seven-day rolling average of new cases dropped to 343, which is a significant difference from last week's average of 380 new cases per day. She also reported the test positivity rate is staying steady, so Utah avoided the spikes that other states went through.
Dunn said the state's vaccination rollout is a big reason for this decline. Utah is close to reaching the milestone of having one million people who received both doses of the vaccine. Plus, when the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 12- to 15-year-olds, it's expected to have a major impact on the spread of the disease.
"This age group, in part, is contributing to the COVID-19 spread, right now. So, having 12- to 15-year-olds get vaccinated will really cause our cases to just plummet," Dunn said.
In fact, a pair of Utah brothers have already volunteered for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial in children.
Dunn is calling on all parents with children in this age range to schedule a vaccination appointment as soon as they're available. She believes the approval to vaccinate young teens may come sooner than many people expected.
She said, "We anticipate this will happen as early as next week. This is fantastic for Utah."
Even though all signs point to the pandemic reaching its end, Dunn warns people not to get too comfortable, yet.
"Over the past 14 months, the one thing we have learned is the virus will keep us on our toes," Dunn said. "So, the thing we're looking at are variants that specifically aren't susceptible to the vaccine, but there's no sign of that right now."
She said the quicker people get vaccinated, the more able the state will be to prevent variants from becoming resistant to the vaccine. Additionally, Utah COVID-19 cases will keep decreasing when more people are vaccinated against the virus.