Utah will stop releasing daily COVID-19 case data and close testing sites as the state's GOP governor says some people should 'take this disease less seriously'

Spencer Cox in a black suit and blue tie speaking at a microphone.
Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks during a briefing at the Utah State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2021, in Salt Lake City.Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News, via AP, Pool, File
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  • Utah will stop releasing daily COVID-19 case data and close many testing sites.

  • Gov. Spencer Cox made the announcement Friday and said some people "could stand to take [COVID-19] less seriously."

  • The state is averaging over 1,000 daily new COVID-19 cases, according to the latest state data.

Utah will stop releasing daily COVID-19 case data and close many testing sites as the state's Republican governor says some people could take the virus "less seriously."

"Let me be clear that this is not the end of COVID," Gov. Spencer Cox said during a news briefing on Friday. But, he said, it is "the beginning of treating COVID as we do other seasonal respiratory viruses."

He added that unvaccinated and high-risk individuals need treat COVID-19 as a serious issue. But Cox added that there are people who are fully vaccinated "who could stand to take this disease a lot less seriously."

"It's time to adapt. All of the key metrics are moving in the right direction," Cox added.

Cox said that by the end of March, Utah will no longer treat the COVID-19 pandemic like an emergency.

"There's almost nothing in our daily lives that hasn't experienced at least some sort of change over the past two years, but we've also come a long way," Cox said. "And today, we are in a much different place than we were two years ago."

State epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen said there will also be a decrease in media briefings, and the state will report caseloads on a weekly basis.

At the briefing, Nate Checketts, director of the state health department, said future testing will rely primarily on healthcare systems and many testing sites will be shut down.

Cox reflected on the two years living in a pandemic, and highlighted the state's capabilities to fight the virus like vaccines, anti-viral pills and at-home testing.

The Utah is averaging a little over 1,000 daily new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days, according to the latest state data.

According to the data, that average is down from a peak of over 10,700 daily new cases in mid-January amid a nationwide surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The state is averaging around 55 daily new hospital admissions in the last week, according to the data, down from a late-January peak of around 112.

According to the data, Utah is averaging over three new COVID-19 deaths per day over the past week. Unlike with hospitalizations and case numbers, which saw pandemic peaks during the recent Omicron surge, the state averaged more deaths per day during the 2020-2021 winter.

Roughly 60% of the state's population has been fully vaccinated — with just over 26% boosted, according to the state.

Read the original article on Business Insider