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Uncertainty abounds as COVID-19 surges before holidays

By Ashtyn Asay - | Dec 21, 2021

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

A face mask notice is posted at an entrance to the Liberal Arts Building on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.

With the spread of the Omicron variant, and COVID-19 cases at an all-time high in states across the U.S., the future feels uncertain as we head toward the new year.

“We are worried, but we’re trying to remain optimistic,” said Danielle Chapman with the Utah County Health Department.

While some have put their masks away for good, the Utah County Health Department is urging citizens to go back to the basics this holiday season. They recommend wearing a mask indoors, maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others, and getting vaccinated.

“We are working with our hospital communities to help make sure they are not overwhelmed. We were looking at the data this morning, and some of them are still at over a hundred percent capacity,” Chapman said.”This is a team effort, we’re not past this yet.”

Universities across the country have opted to hold online classes in January in anticipation of a spike in COVID-19 cases, but students at Utah County’s higher education institutions will be able to attend classes in person this spring — for now.

According to Scott Trotter, the senior director of communications at Utah Valley University, UVU would likely utilize the same contingency plan the school used in 2020 if the need arose.

“Our biggest concern when it comes to Omicron or any other virus is the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, thus we are continually planning and improving our systems. UVU has an excellent contingency plan that was built and tested in 2020. We know it works well,” Trotter said. “Plus, we have a very effective testing and vaccination center on campus where we continually monitor the health of our students, faculty, and staff and offer them free COVID vaccines.”

Trotter said that the school will continue to work with the Utah System of Higher Education, the Governor’s office and both state and county health departments to inform its decisions concerning virus spikes.

“There are so many variables that I can’t say if classes would be moved online,” Trotter said. “For now, we are planning to have face-to-face classes in the 2022 Spring Semester.”

Brigham Young University does not currently plan to move to fully online classes in January and will maintain its current indoor masking requirements. Additionally, the school will continue to require new students and faculty report their vaccination status.

To find a vaccination location in Utah County, visit http://health.utahcounty.gov. For more information on COVID-19 in Utah, visit http://coronavirus.utah.gov.

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