COVID-19 update: New infections reach triple-digits in Southern Utah as CDC provides new recommendations

ST. GEORGE — A few days after the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines that recommend the wearing of masks again indoors in high-transmission areas, Southern Utah saw one of its highest days for new COVID-19 infections in 2021.

Stock photo.| Photo by
Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

There were 128 new infections reported by the Utah Department of Health in Southern Utah on Thursday – the highest one-day total in five months.

While the century mark was broken locally, the state of Utah passed 1,000 in one day with 1,113 new COVID-19 infections statewide Thursday. That was enough to get a reaction from Gov. Spencer Cox. 

“Today’s case count is another step in the wrong direction for our state,” Cox said in a statement, though he maintained that the solution already exists in vaccinations. “Unfortunately, nearly everyone who is getting sick, and who will end up in the hospital because of today’s case counts, is unvaccinated. This pandemic of the unvaccinated is tragic because it is preventable.”

The areas of Southern Utah seeing the most new infections Thursday, according to the Utah Department of Health, were St. George (47 new infections), Cedar City (31) and Hurricane/LaVerkin (21).

As a percentage, the areas with the least amount of population fully vaccinated are Hurricane/LaVerkin (30.35%) and Cedar City (31.37%). The Ivins/Santa Clara area, with 43.73%, has the highest percentage of residents fully vaccinated. 

There is some evidence that Southern Utahns that haven’t been vaccinated are starting to loom at doing so. In the last two weeks, the number of new vaccinations locally per day has been on the rise – going from being in the 300s per day to nearly twice that. 

Medical workers fill syringes with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic inside the St. George Active Life Center on Feb. 11, 2021. St. George, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“We are seeing a slight uptick in local vaccinations,” David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said.

The governor did not mention masks, though he has said recently that he is against any kind of new mask mandate or recommendation because, as he said, “The discussion is we know what to do and it’s to keep getting people vaccinated.”

On Tuesday, the CDC released new guidance that said that people in high-transmission areas should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also recommended that masks be required for everyone in all schools, regardless of vaccination status.

One misunderstanding about the new guidance, health officials say, is that it means those who are fully vaccinated are more prone to being sick from the virus. However, in its new guidance, the CDC said masks may be needed by the vaccinated not because they can get sick, but because  “preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others.”

According to the Utah Department of Health, of all of those in Utah who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since the start of the year, 0.02% have been hospitalized against COVID-19 and 0.0007%, or 10 out of 1,445,130 people, have died. 

Thus far, when asked by St. George News, the Utah Department of Health said it does not necessarily agree with the new CDC guidance and said at this point vaccinated people in Utah have no need to mask up in high-transmission areas.

The local Southwest Utah Public Health Department has said previously it plans to take the lead of the state’s health department as far as new mask recommendations. And that was the case again Thursday, according to its spokesperson. 

A file photo of a masks required sign outside Smith’s Market on Bluff Street in St. George, Utah, seen on Nov. 6, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“We continue to support Utah Department of Health guidelines, which currently state that masks are not necessary for those who have been vaccinated,” Heaton said. “Individuals, of course, can take whatever measures they feel appropriate to protect themselves and others.”

Where Southern Utahns may see a change is at national chain stores and restaurants. Retailers with presences locally like Walmart and Kroger – parent of Smith’s Food and Drug – have previously abided purely by CDC guidelines, which is why masks were still required for a time in places like Target and Smith’s even after the Utah mask mandate ended. 

However, according to media reports, Walmart and other retailers have delayed a decision and expressed difficulty with the new guidance as it only applies in high-transmission areas.

In Southern Utah, only Washington and Iron counties are seeing high-transmission numbers. That means, for example, that the new CDC mask guidance would apply to a Subway in Cedar City but would not in the Subway in Beaver. 

Hospitals still loaded with COVID-19 patients

While in the past week St. George Regional Hospital is no longer seeing the number of patients in the intensive care unit and the hospital overall above capacity, it still remains nearly full.

In a file photo, a nurse in COVID-19 protective gear enters one of the rooms in the intensive care unit inside then-Dixie Regional Medical Center, now St. George Regional Hospital. December 2020, St. George, Utah| Photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, St. George Regional has been around 80% full, while its ICU has been in the 90% capacity range. However, more than 50% of the patients in the ICU are now COVID-19 patients. 

Also, Southern Utah COVID-19 patients, which were back to being admitted just at St. George Regional, are once again also being admitted to Cedar City Hospital, though none of the patients there are serious enough to be in the ICU. 

There have been four Southern Utahns who have died of COVID-19 since last Thursday,  including St. George Police Officer Adam Ashworth and Dixie State music professor and well-known local piano teacher Dr. Lynn Dean.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 12 and over. Those 12-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • The Southwest Utah Public Health Department and most pharmacies and stores are offering walk-up appointments.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • To receive a free ride to and from a vaccine appointment through Lyft, call 211.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

For hours and more information: Click here 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

For hours and more information: Click here 

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

For hours and more information:: Click here

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketpace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd.  and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use to find a location near you

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of July 22, 2021 according to Utah Department of Health)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 31,272 (7-day average of 62.43 per day, up 9.5% in last week)

Active cases: 1,435 (rising)

  • Washington County (High in Transmission Index): 291.74 per 100K rate in 14 days, rising
  • Iron County (High): 364.70, rising
  • Kane County (Low): 126.81, steady
  • Garfield County (Low): 138.58 dropping
  • Beaver County (Low): 208.64, steady

Hospitalized: 42 (falling)

Deaths: 289 (3 in the last week)

New infections per day in Southern Utah:

  • Friday (7-23): 75 
  • Saturday (7-24): 75
  • Sunday (7-25): 38
  • Monday (7-26): 28
  • Tuesday (7-27): 35
  • Wednesday (7-28): 59
  • Thursday (7-29): 128

Current Utah seven-day average: 691 (rising)

Fully vaccinated in  Southern Utah: 91,916 (36.5% fully vaccinated, +0.4%)

  • St. George: 39.82% fully vaccinated (+0.4%) 
  • Cedar City: 31.37% (+0.37%)
  • Washington City: 36.37% (+0.24%)
  • Ivins/Santa Clara: 43.73% (+0.7%)
  • Hurricane/LaVerkin: 30.35% (+0.45%)
  • Enterprise/Veyo/Springdale/Hildale: 36.11%   (+0.31%)
  • Beaver/Garfield/Kane counties: 35.56% (+0.16%)

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.


Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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