Doctors in Utah are worried about a coming spike in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant spreads and as people gather to celebrate the new year.
The Utah Department of Health is already attributing Wednesday’s massive count of 3,303 new cases to the new variant and holiday get-togethers.
Doctors are now urging people to think twice ahead of New Year’s Eve.
“We do worry that in about four weeks we’re going to see a lot more acute care admissions and a lot more hospitalizations,” said Dr. Kencee Graves with University of Utah Health.
Graves is one of many doctors sounding a warning about New Year’s Eve plans.
“I think there is significant risk in gathering in large groups, especially in indoor settings that are not well ventilated,” Graves said. “If you are unvaccinated and not boosted, your risk of getting sick is significant right now.”
Even though the omicron variant is thought to be milder, Graves said it will lead to more people getting sick – and more hospitalizations.
At Bar-X in Salt Lake City, bartender and manager Julie Tall feels safer this year with the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s still unease with Omicron spreading.
“It’s definitely scary to think about what this is going to look like in a month or two,” Tall said.
Tall said masks are recommended inside the bar, and employees are vaccinated.
“We do really just hope that people are doing the right thing, getting vaccinated, that they are being careful when they’re going out,” Tall said.
Next door at Beer Bar, Abby Waller said she’s trying to be cautious about how she celebrates by considering “who I’m around, where I’m hanging out. Just want to be as safe as possible.”
Waller also works at a bar in Salt Lake and notices varying levels of concern among patrons about COVID-19.
“Some people care. Some people call ahead and ask us if we’re wearing masks,” Waller said. “But some people don’t care at all.”