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Utah ‘back on track’ after vaccine shipments delayed, anticipating big boost in doses

State reports 812 new COVID-19 cases, 14 additional deaths

Vials containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Vials containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Utah’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments that were delayed last week due to winter storms nationwide should be caught up by Feb. 25.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments that were delayed last week due to winter storms nationwide should be caught up by Thursday, and state officials are hoping the federal government’s allotment of first doses soon will increase by more than 50% with the expected approval of a new vaccine.

“Utah’s back on track,” Rich Lakin, Utah Department of Health immunizations director, said Wednesday. He said he’s not hearing any concerns now from local health departments that had to shuffle and even cancel vaccination appointments when some expected doses didn’t show up as scheduled last week.

Lakin said Utah is anticipating receiving just over 33,000 doses the week of March 8 of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, just endorsed by the federal Food and Drug Administration for emergency use, an authorization that could come as soon as Friday.

He said the supply of what would be the first single-dose vaccine approved in the United States would be on top of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already being distributed in Utah and across the country. Next week’s order, he said, is for around 32,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 27,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Some 3 million to 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be shipped to states as early as next week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said at a news conference Wednesday, adding that once its approved, “we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay.”

Zients said Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March, but the Biden administration is “working with the company to accelerate the pace and time frame” for the 100 million doses promised by the end of June.

Already, he said, a record supply of vaccines ended up going to the states to make up for last week’s delays, with 7 million doses delivered nationwide on Monday on top of this week’s allocation of 14.5 million doses, after teams worked through the weekend to pack and ship doses.

In Utah, the state health department reported Wednesday 18,005 more vaccine doses have been administered in the state since Tuesday for a total of 641,881 first and second doses given since mid-December. The state’s eligibility list is set to expand Monday to include all Utah adults with specified medical conditions.

Those who can be vaccinated now through local health departments as well as at some pharmacy chains are health care workers, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staffs, K-12 teachers and school staff, and Utahns 65 and older.

Another 812 cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths from the virus were reported Wednesday by the state health department. To date, there have been 368,601 cases of COVID-19 in Utah and 1,879 lives lost in the state from the virus.

The state’s rolling seven-day average for positive tests is 768 per day. Since Tuesday, there have been 7,631 Utahns tested for COVID-19, and 19,389 tests conducted. Counting all tests, the rolling seven-day average for percent positivity is 6.1%, or 13.1% when multiple tests by an individual with 90 days are excluded.

Currently, 222 people are hospitalized in Utah with the virus. The state’s death toll of 1,879 includes the 14 new deaths reported Wednesday:

  • A Utah County man, older than 85, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Utah County man, between 65 and 84, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Salt Lake County man, between 65 and 84, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Sevier County man, older than 85, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Utah County man, between 65 and 84, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Salt Lake County man, between 65-84, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Tooele County man, between 25 and 44, not hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County man, between 65 and 84, not hospitalized
  • A Washington County woman, older than 85, not hospitalized
  • A Utah County woman, between 65 and 84, hospitalized at time of death
  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, not hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, long-term care facility resident
  • A Box Elder County woman, between 65 and 84, not hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, not hospitalized