Governor Cox discusses changes to vaccine eligibility and herd immunity

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Thursday, during his monthly press briefing, Gov. Spencer Cox explained a policy change in vaccine eligibility.

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

”We are no longer discouraging individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days to wait to get their COVID-19 vaccine,” the Governor said. “We do have enough supply as supply continues to grow and as more and more people are getting vaccinated now, to allow for this change. The verbiage which outlines this recommendation will be removed from the Governor’s Vaccination Distribution Plan Executive Order starting today, April 15.”

He was also asked whether it will be possible to reach herd immunity in Utah.

“There are other ways to get to herd immunity and it’s not just vaccines. There have been a lot of people who have been infected with this disease who do have some immunity. We don’t know how long that will last,” he added. “We do know that it is a combination of those things.

“We certainly think that’s one of the reasons the numbers continue to drop here in Utah. It’s a combination of people who have already had the disease plus people who have been vaccinated.”

Cox also said three more counties — Kane, Millard and Washington — have qualified for the low transmission category. He said with 204,969 getting either their first or second doses of the vaccine it was “our biggest week yet.”

The governor also stated he was concerned that the U.S. decision to recommend a “pause” in use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could make it more difficult to reach rural and minority communities.

Gov. Spencer Cox said the single dose vaccine had helped expand vaccine administration to the state’s smaller, isolated towns that are harder to reach. Cox said the pause in distribution “shouldn’t disrupt us much” but “could slow things down in getting to those harder-to-reach communities.”

One new coronavirus death was included in the Thursday Utah Health Department report. There have been a total of 2,162 COVID-19 deaths in the state.

The state’s number of new positive cases grew by 456 while there were 24 cases detected in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. There have been 391,633 positive cases in Utah the last 13 months.

The state health department said 40,578 more vaccines were administered since Wednesday and vaccinations in Utah now total over 1.8 million. Almost 2.47 million Utahns have been tested as of Thursday and there have been over 4.4 million total tests administered in the state.

Since Wednesday, 7,124 people were tested for the first time and a total of 18,714 tests were administered.

In Idaho, there have been 184,347 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,006 COVID-19 deaths. In the three southeast Idaho counties case counts include 1,165 positive cases in Franklin County, 375 in Bear Lake County and 353 in Oneida County.

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