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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is excited to get back to its Thanksgiving traditions after two years of restrictions under the coronavirus pandemic. But just because COVID-19 isn’t prevalent doesn’t mean we don’t need to take precautions.
“Over the past two years, COVID has been the main concern for spreading through the family,” said Dr. Per Geestland, pediatrician at the University of Utah Children’s Health and Primary Hospital.
He said there is less concern this year about COVID-19, however more concern about RSV and influenza. Right now, these viruses are still sending children to the hospital.
“We live well here,” said Geistland, referring to the Primary Children’s Hospital. “We are operating at 95-100% of her capacity and she is definitely busy.”
He said we’re going to have a viral blizzard.
Geestland helped create High Risk 20 years ago, which shows us that RSV and flu are on the rise today in most parts of the state. RSV can be especially harmful for children, the elderly, and people with high-risk health conditions.
“I started in October and then it really took off,” said the doctor. “The slope from last year’s outbreak was a little less steep. This year it was a very steep slope, which indicates very rapid transmission in our communities.”
The flu is starting to increase in Utah, lagging behind the increase in hospitalizations seen in other states.
“We expect it to get worse going forward for a few more weeks before we start to see a lull in our flu activity,” said Geestland.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 still has over 120 people hospitalized across the state.
On average, one person still dies every day from complications related to COVID-19.
“Covid is still there and definitely still causing problems,” said the doctor.
He said that gatherings of healthy people should be allowed on this holiday. If you or your children are sick, stay home and avoid contact with vulnerable people. It is advisable to wash your hands regularly and avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
“We have made great strides in vaccinating people against COVID,” said Geistland. “So we all feel a little better, especially vulnerable populations.”