Severe Weather Cancels Thursday’s St. George COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

News Release (URGENT) – February 17, 2021

Severe Weather Cancels Thursday’s St. George COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

SOUTHWEST UTAH – The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines intended for tomorrow’s
immunization clinic in St. George has been delayed due to severe weather that has impacted
shipping from out-of-state, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) has
announced. The February 18th vaccine clinic is cancelled, and the SWUPHD is contacting as
many of those who signed up as possible, through provided emails and other methods.

Washington County residents who had appointments for Thursday, February 18 are being
rescheduled to arrive at the following dates and times at the St. George Active Life Center (245 N.
200 W.): Please arrive within your assigned time and bring your February 18th
confirmation along with ID, proof of local residency, and signed consent form.

Last names A-G: Tuesday, February 23
A: Walk-in between 8:30am-9:30am
B: 9:30am-10:30am
C: 10:30am-11:30am
D: 11:30am-12:30pm
E: 12:30pm-1:30pm
F: 1:30pm-2:30pm
G: 2:30pm-3:30pm

Last names H-P : Thursday, February 25
H: Walk-in between 8:30am-9:30am
I-J: 9:30am-10:30am
K: 10:30am-11:30am
L: 11:30am-12:30pm
M: 12:30pm-1:30pm
N: 1:30pm-2:30pm
O-P: 2:30pm-3:30pm

Last names Q-Z: Saturday, February 27
Q-R: Walk-in between 8:30am-9:30am
S: 9:30am-10:30am
T:10:30am-11:30am
U-V:11:30am-12:30pm
W,X,Y,Z: 1:30pm-2:30pm

Appointments made for SWUPHD vaccine clinics on other dates should be unaffected, including
those made for the 5,000 slots opened on February 17th which are scheduled into March.

###

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: More Appointments for Ages 70+ Open February 17

News Release – February 16, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: More Appointments for Ages 70+ Open February 17

SOUTHWEST UTAH – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is opening sign-ups for over 5,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Wednesday, February 17th. These will be for clinics scheduled for the first three weeks in March and are for residents age 70 and over and anyone in previous priority groups (non-hospital healthcare providers, first responders, & K-12 school staff).

Registration will be online at swuhealth.org, beginning at 9:00 am on February 17 until filled. As always, people will need to sign up for vaccine clinics in the county where they currently live (and bring proof of residence to the appointment). The clinics for Washington County will be held at the St. George Active Life Center at 245 N 2W, unless otherwise indicated. Clinic locations for Iron, Kane, Beaver, and Garfield counties are given when signing up. Please do not arrive any earlier than 5 minutes before your appointment.

Second dose appointments will continue to open on Mondays at 9am at swuhealth.org. There is currently no maximum time after the waiting period to get the second dose, so there is plenty of leeway if you can’t find an appointment right away.

The next eligible groups will be people age 65 and older and any adults with certain underlying health conditions. Please follow local news sources, our website at swuhealth.org/covid, or social media at swuhealth for COVID-19 updates and vaccine eligibility announcements.

Although COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are currently decreasing in Southwest Utah, we encourage all residents to get vaccinated when able and continue to protect your vulnerable loved ones by maintaining distancing, wearing masks when within 6 feet, keeping hands washed, and staying home if sick.

                                                                             # # #

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Ages 70 & Over Can Sign Up Starting January 18th

News Release – January 15, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Ages 70 & Over Can Sign Up Starting January 18th

SOUTHWEST UTAH – People aged 70 and over can register starting Monday, January 18th to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. They can sign up at swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine to set up a time at their nearest clinic. A consent form can also be printed from the website to fill out and bring to the appointment. Picture ID and a short-sleeved shirt will also be required. There is no cost for the vaccine although insurance information may be requested. Both full and part-time residents are eligible.

People who don’t have a computer or access to the internet can call to register by phone starting on Tuesday, January 19th. The number will be 435-986-2549. Whether online or by phone, residents may need to keep trying to get through since there is a high demand for vaccines that are shipped to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) in limited amounts. It will take many weeks to schedule and vaccinate the 70+ age group.

The SWUPHD will continue vaccinating previous priority groups as well, including non-hospital healthcare workers, first responders, K-12 school staff. Eligibility for other age groups and health conditions will be announced at a later time.

A second dose is needed about a month after the first COVID-19 shot for the best protection against the disease. The state of Utah is recommending that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 wait for 90 days after the positive test to get vaccinated.

Please follow local news sources, our website at swuhealth.org/covid, or social media at swuhealth for COVID-19 updates and vaccine eligibility announcements.

As we see case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths continue in Southwest Utah from the spread of COVID-19, we encourage all residents to get vaccinated when able and continue to protect your vulnerable loved ones by maintaining distancing, wearing masks when within 6 feet, keeping hands washed, and staying home if sick.

                                                                             # # #


The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at  www.swuhealth.org

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: K-12 School Staff Can Now Register

NEWS RELEASE – January 8, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: K-12 School Staff Can Now Register

SOUTHWEST UTAH – K-12 teachers and school staff can now get the COVID-19 vaccine by registering at swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine to set up an appointment at their nearest clinic.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) will continue vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders as K-12 school staff join the eligible priority groups. Vaccinations  will be open to the general public in the near future beginning with people over 70 years of age.

As we see COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths increase after the holidays in our area, we continue to encourage all residents to get vaccinated when able and continue to protect your vulnerable loved ones by maintaining distancing, wearing masks when within 6 feet, keeping hands washed, and staying home if sick.

                                                                             # # #

The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at  www.swuhealth.org

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: First Responders Can Register Now

News Release – January 4, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: First Responders Can Register Now

SOUTHWEST UTAH – First responders (including EMTs, law enforcement, firefighters, etc.) can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, along with any healthcare workers. They can register at swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine to set up an appointment at their nearest clinic.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is currently vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders only. They will be followed by K-12 school staff, then vaccinations  will be open to the general public, beginning with people over 75 years of age. Priority for those with underlying health conditions and other age groups will also be announced in the near future.

Please follow local news sources, our website at swuhealth.org/covid, or social media at swuhealth to get notification of when you‘re eligible to get vaccinated. When your priority or age group is open, you will need to register online at swuhealth.org/covid for a vaccine appointment time, and will be able to print off a consent form to fill out and bring with you to the clinic in your county. You can also access the vaccine fact sheet.

As we see case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths continue from the spread of COVID-19 in our area, we continue to encourage all residents to get vaccinated when able and continue to protect your vulnerable loved ones by maintaining distancing, wearing masks when within 6 feet, keeping hands washed, and staying home if sick.

                                                                             # # #


The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at  www.swuhealth.org

Covid-19 Vaccination Begins in Southwest Utah

NEWS RELEASE – December 30, 2020

Covid-19 Vaccination Begins in Southwest Utah

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) has begun receiving shipments of COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver, and Garfield counties. Supplies are limited and will be offered to priority groups at clinics in each county, by online registration. Major hospitals have already been vaccinating their staff.

Priority groups will be served in this order:

  • Non-hospital healthcare workers in clinics (medical, dental, mental health, etc.), pharmacies, etc. (this group can now register to get vaccinated at swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine)
  • Healthcare workers in long-term/assisted living/skilled nursing facilities (may be offered on site by vaccine providers).
  • School staff.
  • First responders. (this group can now register to get vaccinated at swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine)
  • Long-term care facility staff and residents who have not been vaccinated.
  • General public; prioritized by age, medical conditions, and other risk factors.

The SWUPHD will be offering vaccines at indoor, walk-in clinics in each county. For dates, locations, and eligible groups, visit swuhealth.org/covid-vaccine and follow swuhealth on Facebook and Instagram.

COVID-19 vaccines developed by several companies are being shipped following FDA approval, and we will be offering whatever supplies we get as soon as possible. Most brands will require a second dose for the most effective immunity and will be at no cost to our residents due to insurance coverage or grants for the uninsured.

It will likely take several months to get through the list, so we continue to stress the importance of maintaining precautions in the meantime to protect our vulnerable populations and hospitals (staying home if sick, social distancing, wearing masks appropriately, and hand washing).

Although COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends consulting your doctor first if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to an injectable, and not getting vaccinated if you are allergic to an ingredient in any vaccine.

Vaccination procedures may change as we go forward, so stay informed through swuhealth.org and other trusted sources. Vaccines may also be offered through other community providers in the future. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine.

# # #

The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at  www.swuhealth.org

COVID-19 Update – November 3, 2020

COVID-19 Update

David W. Blodgett MD, MPH (SWUPHD Director & Health Officer)

Scientific understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with rapid advancements in medical and public health capacity to deal with patients – and the virus itself – are ongoing. 


Our understanding of the disease

Local, state, and federal data has allowed us a clear picture of who is most impacted by this disease, and helps tailor a better approach for prevention and containment.  It is evident that those who are over the age of 65 are much more affected. Of those who are tested and are positive for COVID-19, the following is true: 28% of those over age 85 will require hospitalization.  21% of those aged 65-84 will require hospitalization, 7% of those aged 45-65 will require hospitalization, 3% of those aged 25-45, and less than 1% of those under 25 will require hospitalization. 

It is equally clear that there are well defined risk factors that influence whether someone will fare poorly with this disease.  These factors include  obesity, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease (not to include mild or moderate asthma), being immunocompromised, and substance abuse.  94% of those who have passed away from this disease were known to be either in one of the older age groups, had an underlying disease risk factor, or both.  Overall, the risk of death from COVID-19 in Utah is .7%, but it is 18% for those over 85 and 5% for those 70-84. It is .6% for those 50-70, and below that it rapidly drops to less than .01%.  These numbers only reflect the cases that we are aware of because they were tested.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did serology testing in Utah and estimated that there are 11 cases for every case that we detect.  This means that the true hospitalization and fatality rates are much lower. 

80% of the spread of this disease happens from 10% of the cases.   Most infections happen in families or social groups; about 85% of the time an infected person is able to identify who gave it to them.   Sometimes people are exposed at work, when they travel, or in other situations – but that is the exception.  The vast majority of transmission happens when two people are within 6 feet of each other for more than 15 minutes.  This is a disease of close contact.  Most cases are infectious for about 5 days starting 5-7 days after they are infected.  The ability to rapidly identify those who are infectious, rather than those that are merely infected, is the question most important to public health. 

Interventions for COVID-19

Medications and medical interventions:  Advancements in the understanding of how to treat this disease (and what to do and not do) in the medical setting have dramatically changed the nature of what it means to have COVID-19.  The average COVID-19 stay in the hospital is less than 7 days where it was once more than three weeks. 

Vaccine:  Progress toward a safe and effective vaccine continues.  Over a hundred vaccines are in development. Six are in the final stages of testing, called Phase 3 trials.  We are ramping up our efforts to prepare for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in our area.  It is hoped that the vaccine will be available in large quantities by spring 2021.

Testing:  The ability to access rapid, cheap, readily available testing for Sars Cov-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) will be a game changer in our response to this disease.  Identifying infectious cases in real time (within 15 minutes) through frequent testing will overcome most of the challenges we have in halting the spread.  Abundant rapid antigen tests would allow us to test everyone going into nursing homes, restaurants, or just making social visits.  Numbers of cases in the community would plummet. Unfortunately, these tests are still too expensive and not available in quantities that would ultimately make a difference, but progress is being made.  The rationale for this testing approach is addressed well in these two articles.  The first is more accessible, the second is a scientific paper. 

https://harvardmagazine.com/2020/08/covid-19-test-for-public-health

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.22.20136309v3.full.pdf+html

Priorities for the future

Protecting those most at risk should be our highest priority.  Testing sites should allow for rapid testing and easy accessibility that will provide testing before entering a high-risk situation, rather than wondering if you are exposing your co-workers or someone you love to this disease.  Until that time, we will prioritize our testing capacity to focus on those who work with both the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. 

Personal responsibility must be a cornerstone of how we seek to meet the risks posed by COVID-19.  Everyone can spread this disease, so please carefully consider what you can do to protect the high-rick people around you. 

Because this is a disease that spreads primarily through close contact with someone that has symptoms of the disease, basic public health measures can go far to help you in your quest to avoid the illness.  Staying home when you are sick is critical, keeping physical distancing to at least six feet as much as possible, washing your hands, and wearing masks all add up to reduce the chances of infection. 

Southwest Utah COVID-19 Update

News Release (October 6, 2020)

Southwest Utah COVID-19 Update

ST. GEORGE, UT – Since COVID-19 was first detected in our district seven months ago, the pandemic continues to impact Southwest Utah. Cases and hospitalizations fell after a summer surge, but the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is reporting a recent increase in COVID-19 activity.

Although there are currently no local outbreaks linked to school exposures, several care centers in Washington County are experiencing outbreaks among their residents. Elderly people – especially those with underlying health conditions – are at high-risk for COVID-19 complications and make up most district hospitalizations and deaths.

“We continue to urge everyone to do all they can to protect our vulnerable family members and neighbors,” says Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Director and Health Officer. “Act as if you may be infected; keep your distance from those outside your home, wear a mask when near others, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re sick. Most of us will be fine, but the chances of serious illness increase dramatically in people over 65, especially when combined with hypertension, heart or lung issues, diabetes, kidney disease, a history of smoking, or obesity.”

Kane, Beaver, and Garfield counties are currently under Green (minimal) restrictions while Washington and Iron counties remain at Yellow (low-risk) restrictions. Local positive testing rates are too high for Yellow counties to go Green (the state requires below 5%) but all five counties are well below the limits that would lead to higher restrictions at this time.The precautions mentioned above should continue at all levels, and high-risk individuals should use extra caution when possible.

Although there is not a general mask mandate in Utah, face masks are required on state property, including schools and universities. Businesses may also require masks to enter and employees must wear them if working within six feet of others.

Testing for COVID-19 is widely available, and Intermountain testing sites are now using saliva samples instead of the uncomfortable nasal swab. Call their testing hotline at 844-442-5224 to see if you should be tested.

Vaccine for COVID-19 is expected to be available to the public by spring 2021. In the meantime, the Health Department is encouraging all residents over 6 months of age to get this year’s flu shot in order to help keep influenza from overwhelming hospitals and healthcare providers who will likely still be dealing with COVID-19 patients this winter. Flu shots are available on a walk-in basis at the SWUPHD office in St. George (620 S. 400 E., 2nd level: enter from the east parking lot). Cost is $20 or no charge with many insurances, and it only takes a few minutes.

COVID-19 case reports and updates for Southwest Utah can be found online at swuhealth.org/covid and on Facebook and Instagram (search swuhealth).

# # #

The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at www.swuhealth.org

Southwest Utah COVID-19 Update

News Release (May 27, 2020)

 Southwest Utah COVID-19 Update

SOUTHWEST UTAH – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Southwest Utah since the first positive case was reported in the five-county district on March 6th, 2020. An average of 11 positive COVID-19 test results have been reported per day to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) over the past two weeks, mostly in Washington County. While Iron County also has active cases being investigated, Beaver, Garfield, and Kane counties currently have no known active cases of COVID-19.

“In Utah, we have a 99% recovery rate for those infected with COVID-19”, states Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer. “However, people over age 60 or those with underlying health problems are more likely to have complications or be hospitalized. That’s why it’s so important for them to have limited contact with others and for the rest of us to keep things running while protecting them.”

The SWUPHD encourages all residents to follow Governor Herbert’s directives. Southwest Utah is currently under Yellow (low-risk) guidelines, although individuals and businesses should still keep at least 6 feet between people or household groups (masks should be worn in close range of others). High-risk people should continue Red precautions until further notice, including wearing masks when in public.

“It’s impressive how our local officials, schools, hospitals, and businesses have responded during this difficult time,” says Dr. Blodgett. “Many people in our community have stepped up to serve each other and find creative solutions. Our hospitals remain below critical capacity and COVID-19 testing is widely available. We hope to see our case rates decrease in the near future as we continue social distancing, which remains our most important effort in dealing with the virus and keeping our vulnerable residents safe. This is also a time for patience and tolerance as we deal the best we can with uncertainty.” 

Local COVID-19 case reports and updates can be found online at swuhealth.org/covid and at swuhealth on Facebook.

 # # #

The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at  www.swuhealth.org

Getting Tested

Southwest Utah Public Health Department Guidelines

for Getting Tested for COVID-19

Updated April 15, 2020


You can now get tested for COVID-19 if you have even mild symptoms, including one or more of these: fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches/pain, loss of taste or smell, or sore throat (if you are having difficulty breathing, you should seek immediate medical care, or dial 9-1-1). Contact your healthcare provider  or CLICK HERE to find a testing location near you. You can also:

  • Call the Utah COVID-19 Information Line: 1-800-456-7707
  • Visit Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 Symptom Checker – LINK