Idaho COVID-19 cases 'bonkers,' Utah governor says, but it's Utah that's a hot spot

COVID-19 testing is performed at the Mount Olympus
Senior Center parking lot in Millcreek on Oct. 5.

COVID-19 testing is performed at the Mount Olympus Senior Center parking lot in Millcreek on Oct. 5. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah may be one of the nation's hot spots for COVID-19 right now, but Gov. Spencer Cox said the Beehive State's case numbers are at least staying stuck and aren't "bonkers" like they've been in Idaho.

"There have been these waves that have happened in different geographic regions of the country," including in Idaho and other Pacific Northwest states, the governor said during a town hall meeting held on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

But while Cox said coronavirus cases in Utah seem to be stalled at a high rate after slight dips, Idaho "had cases, just bonkers cases, like double the rate of our high here in Utah," and both Washington and Oregon have hit the same levels that put Utah on the hot spot map.

The governor's comments come after Utah and other Mountain West states — Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico — are all averaging more than 50 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, according to data collected by the Mayo Clinic as of Tuesday.

Only a few other scattered states reached that level for COVID-19 cases. By Wednesday, just North Dakota, Minnesota and Alaska had hit the same mark as Utah and the other mountain states. Idaho, which has had to ration health care because of the most recent surge, was at 42 new cases a day per 100,000 residents.

The governor said he's hearing a lot of theories from experts trying to figure out why Utah's numbers are up. Those include the state's young population, since vaccinations only became available last week for children 5-11. Utah's larger households are also a factor, Cox said, because that's where the virus really spreads.

And, the governor said, "part of it is just human behavior, again, making sure we get more people vaccinated. That is the key to all of this." Just over 55% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated, meaning it's been two weeks or more since their final initial shot.

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Lisa Riley Roche

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