Where is mask wearing recommended in Utah? Salt Lake, Summit, Wasatch, Tooele, San Juan and Piute counties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants you to wear a mask because COVID-19 is at a high community level, just as it is in more than 35% of the nation’s counties as yet another highly transmissible omicron subvariant, BA.5, sweeps across the United States.
Additionally, the National Park Service is requiring visitors to wear masks on enclosed public transportation and in buildings on sites located in counties with a high community level of the virus, determined by case counts, and hospital admissions and capacity.
Utah’s reported COVID-19 case count jumped to just under 7,800 in the past week, according to data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services released late Thursday, more than a 13% increase. Hospitalizations for the virus climbed to a seven-day average of nearly 214 people, with almost 33 on average in intensive care.
Another 22 people in Utah have lost their lives to the virus, bringing the state’s death toll from COVID-19 to 4,869.
The BA.5 subvariant, which is responsible for Europe becoming a world hot spot for COVID-19, is driving daily average case counts in the United States up to just under 133,000, according to data compiled by The New York Times. BA.5 is viewed as better able to infect even those who are vaccinated and boosted, or who recently contracted COVID-19.
In Utah, every wastewater treatment site testing for the presence of the virus is at the highest, elevated level, with 10 of the 34 sites showing an increase. The state depends on wastewater surveillance, as well as the number of emergency room visits, to track the virus after turning over most testing to private providers earlier this year.
Utah also relies on the CDC community levels to provide guidance on what precautions are needed. The CDC lowered the number of cases needed to trigger a universal masking recommendation after the original omicron variant sent cases soaring to record levels nationwide, including in Utah.
Under the CDC’s previous metrics based on case counts and percent positivity of tests, more than 92% of counties in the United States — including nearly all in Utah — are at a high level of COVID-19 transmission, even though cases are believed to be significantly undercounted due to less testing and home test results not being reported.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly reported Utah’s COVID-19 case count jumped by more than 7,800 in the past week. The count actually increased by 7,789, just under 7,800.