SALT LAKE CITY – Rural hospitals in Utah are now vaccinating against COVID-19, with facilities in Heber City and Park City announcing that frontline workers will receive injections this week.
The Utah Department of Health said on Thursday that 14,822 vaccines were administered in the Hive State. The news comes as the number of positive COVID-19 tests continues to rise, with the agency reporting 2,892 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of infections to 260,589 since the pandemic’s arrival.
Another nine Utahns died from the new coronavirus, estimating the state’s death toll at 1,204. A previous death has been removed from the total and is under investigation, the health department said in its press release.
The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer arrived in Utah on December 14, with the initial wave of medical teams receiving inoculations the next day. Earlier this week, hospitals began to receive the Modern vaccine as well.
Intermountain Healthcare began administering the COVID-19 vaccine at Heber Valley and Park City hospitals on Wednesday – the first rural hospitals to administer the vaccine in Utah. Intermountain vaccinated about 6,000 caregivers, it said in a press release on Wednesday.
Tessa Vasquez, medical-surgical nursing manager at Heber Valley Hospital, was one of the first to receive the inoculation. She was optimistic about the impact the vaccine could have on the community, she said in a video released by Intermountain showing vaccinations being given.
“The vaccine for COVID is very important,” she said. “We have many caregivers who are exposed to it daily, and it helps to keep them safe, it helps to prevent it from reaching their families in the community and it helps them to be able to be here and you don’t have to miss work because you are sick so we have enough people to take care of the community when they need it. “
Heber Valley Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Doug Vogel said he was very excited about this significant step to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“I only think about how many times in the community we get socially distant, wash our hands and wear a mask. I can only think of how much fatigue there is, ”he said. “Then I arrive at the emergency room, where more and more of the patients I see are increasingly experiencing coughs, shortness of breath and fever, and I use all the protective equipment, as do my colleagues. Getting the vaccine is just another line of defense so that we can stay vigilant and continue doing what we are doing, but at the same time just be sure that we have something else in our favor ”.
For Brittany Badeau, a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, being able to be vaccinated is a moral moment for her and her colleagues.
“Watching all these other nurses lining up for something like that, the energy is great here today and I feel like I hope this is the beginning of an end for us,” she said. “I feel very grateful to have this available to me, and I encourage everyone else to do it too.
“Having something like this shows us the light at the end,” she added.
In Tooele County, the first group of medical professionals is expected to receive the Modern vaccine starting next week, a spokeswoman for Mountain West Medical Center said.
The statewide launch of the COVID-19 vaccine for other groups, starting with long-term care facilities, will continue over the next few months.
The seven-day continuous average for positive tests is 2,379 per day, while the average for the percentage of positive laboratory tests recorded at 24%.
There are currently 561 people hospitalized with the virus, increasing the total number of hospitalizations to 10,406 since the outbreak began.
Among the deceased were five men and four women. They were:
• Two men from Salt Lake County between 65 and 84 who were not hospitalized.
• Two women from Salt Lake County between the ages of 65 and 84 who were hospitalized.
• A man from Salt Lake County over 85 who was hospitalized.
• A Davis County man aged 45-64 who was hospitalized.
• A woman resident in Weber County, aged 45 to 64, who was hospitalized
• Two Utah County residents, a man over 85 in a long-term care facility and a woman between 25 and 55 who was hospitalized at the time of death.
The health department said it would not update COVID-19 numbers on Christmas Day. The next report will be on Saturday.