5 things you should know about COVID-19 in Utah right now


Ask Utah experts and health officials the best way to avoid coronavirus while recent increase in cases, and their answers seem contradictory.

Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 may still report to the class. But a University of Utah Health doctor has advised against dining at restaurants for now.

Officials are also encouraging Utahns to wear masks in public. But not all masks are effective against the omicron variation.

As recommendations change, here’s what experts interviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune want you to know:

Current mask guide

Emily Spivak, an infectious disease physician at the University of Utah School of Medicine, any mask is better than no mask at all.

“If you are outside and are in a group, a cloth mask is probably enough,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare. “But if you’re going to be indoors and there are going to be some people there, cloth masks probably won’t be enough to protect you from omicrons.”

Any mask you wear should fit snugly, snugly against your face, and have no gaps, says Spivak and Stenehjem. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide instructions on where to find masks and how to wear them properly, advises that N95 masks offer the best filtering.

But realistically, Stenehjem notes that not everyone can afford the N95, and “not everyone can afford the N95.”

“They are really tight and hard to wear for long periods of time,” Stenehjem continued. “And so I think the biggest focus should be on a well-fitted, well-ventilated mask.”

Leisha Nolen, an epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health, also noted that it is important that N95 masks remain available to healthcare workers.

“There are different levels of masks, and sort of, the higher you can get, the better protection you can afford,” says Nolen.

It could be a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top, says Stenehjem — surgical masks provide adequate filtering, and cloth masks tend to fit more snugly.

Nolen says the KN95 is also a good option, although a spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, Nicholas Rupp, reiterates that “any mask you have on hand and are willing to wear regularly and correctly will work. better than no mask.”

What to do if you test positive

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least five days after being tested, even if you have no symptoms and even if your symptoms begin to ease. .

That’s according to New guide released on Monday by the Utah Department of Health, followed recently updated guidelines from the CDC.

After those first five days, you can leave the house if your symptoms have improved and you don’t have a fever – no medicine – for at least 24 hours. However, wear a mask around others for five days after isolating at home, the guidelines state.

We know, even with earlier variants, sometimes it’s a few days after people’s symptoms go away and they can still infect others,” said Nolen, the state epidemiologist. , said.

If you still have a fever or other symptoms after the first five days of quarantine, you should stay home longer, Spivak said.

What to do if you are exposed to COVID-19

According to the Utah Department of Public Health, anyone who has received confirmation that they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 should get tested five days later.

That’s because 90% of infections will be present by then, said Rupp, of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

According to the Utah Department of Health, whether or not you should quarantine depends on each person’s age and immunization status.

The Department of Health advises, for example, that adults who have been vaccinated or recently boosted do not need to be isolated after exposure. That includes adults 18 years of age and older:

  • Have had a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the past two months.

  • Received the initial two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the past six months.

  • Received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

However, such adults should wear a mask for at least 10 days after exposure, the Ministry of Health recommends.

The same guidelines are recommended for anyone younger than 18 years of age who has had two doses of Pfizer vaccine since becoming eligible.

People of all ages who have not been vaccinated, have not been vaccinated recently, or have not received a booster dose should be isolated at home for five days after exposure. They can then end their quarantine period if they don’t have any symptoms, but should wear a mask around others for another five days.

“Students can go to school as long as they wear a mask at school for 10 days after being exposed,” according to the Ministry of Health.

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What to do if you travel recently

If you traveled recently and experience any upper respiratory symptoms, including sniffling, sore throat or dry cough, “You need to get tested and you need to assume you have COVID-19 ,” said Stenehjem.

He urged anyone with symptoms to self-isolate until they can get tested for the coronavirus, which is “the most predominant viral infection circulating in our community right now.” now”.

Even if you’re not traveling, Spivak recommends that people attending large holiday gatherings or New Year’s Eve celebrations “lay still” for about five to seven days, especially if attendees aren’t wearing mask or not vaccinated.

In the meantime, work from home if possible and limit socializing as much as possible, she said. Going to the grocery store or running errands is fine, but wear a mask.

“We know there’s a lot of transmission right now and it’s likely that people who are cautious have been exposed,” Nolen said. “At airports and airplanes, chances are high that you have been around positive people.”

Going out in public

Stenehjem said warnings about high- and medium-risk activities, including dining out, apply now more than ever “because of the sheer volume of COVID-19 in our community”.

He continued: “If you go out to eat in a crowded restaurant where there are people not wearing masks, there is a very high chance of COVID transmission, simply normal. “There is not enough ventilation. Too many people. ”

Utahns over the next few weeks should consider assessing not only their individual risk but also the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to susceptible and high-risk individuals, he said.

“If you are fully immunized and promote health and wellness, you may perceive your risk differently than people who are kidney transplant patients. … If you had this infection, who would you pass it on? ‘ said Stenehjem. “Do you have immunocompromised children or elderly parents living with you? That risk is on the other side.”

With omicron variant, Spivak said getting vaccinated is “no longer a guarantee” that you won’t catch the coronavirus. Booster shots offer more protection, she says, but there are still cases of breakouts.

If Utah’s recent rise echoes what experts have seen in South Africa, it hopes to decline “fairly quickly,” Spivak said. But over the next month or so, Spivak recommends avoiding indoor settings, such as restaurants, as much as possible.

“If you’re sick or if you’ve been exposed, don’t go to places where you might come into contact with other people,” added Nolen. 5 things you should know about COVID-19 in Utah right now

Yasmin Harisha

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