Why Dr. Angela Dunn says ultimately catching COVID-19 was ‘no big deal’

Why Dr. Angela Dunn says ultimately catching COVID-19 was 'no big deal'
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After more than two years of monitoring the spread of COVID-19first as a state epidemiologist and now as head of the Salt Lake County Health Department, Dr Angela Dunn said she caught the virus about two weeks ago from her 10-year-old son.

“I finally got COVID,” Dunn told the editorial boards of Deseret News and KSL on Monday. Although she tested positive until day 10 of her illness, Dunn said she was not very sick. Neither did his son, who apparently caught the virus during an outbreak among his fourth-grade classmates. Both have received all of their COVID-19 vaccines.

“My son and I had a very mild illness. If it wasn’t labeled as COVID, I would have just thought it was a little cold and no big deal. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? That’s what we’ve been trying to do for two years, is that it doesn’t matter if you get infected. And we’re here if you’re up to date on your vaccinations,” Dunn said.

There will be decisive cases among those who are fully vaccinated and strengthened, but vaccines are still effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths even if the virus continues to mutate, she said, adding “the fact that we have some cases who have been vaccinatedfrom a public health perspective, it’s not that bad.

But less than half of Salt Lake County residents — and just 28.5% of all Utahns — have received all of their COVID-19 vaccines. The first series of shots is accessible to anyone aged 5 and over, and a booster dose to anyone 12 years of age or older. People aged 50 and over or with certain medical conditions are also eligible for a second booster shot.

What’s important now, Dunn said, is to get more Utahns vaccinated since the state is already seeing “a slow and very slight increase” in COVID-19, evident in the increase in the number of cases and ‘other indicators, such as sewage monitoring and the number of people seeking emergency care for the virus.

For now, “the really good news” is that hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to decline in Utah, although it is not what is happening in New York and other states hardest hit by new, even more transmissible versions of the omicron variant that sent cases skyrocketing across the country earlier this year.

Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, poses for a photo, with a sticker of a ‘plague doctor’ visible in the window next to her, in her office in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, October 20. , 2021. The sticker on his office window was a gift from his predecessor, Gary Edwards.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“I think we are still in good shape, even against new omicron variants“, Dunn said. “But people have to be up to date. That means getting their recall, okay, if they’re eligible. Getting that sense of urgency across to the public has been difficult.

Immunity to previous COVID-19 infections only lasts three or four months, she said, meaning anyone counting on having caught the virus during omicron’s record climb last winter should recognize that the immunity “is gone, for the most part. They need that vaccination.

The Utahns are approaching a return to normalcy, Dunn said.

“I think we’re almost there, yeah. It’s still a pandemic, because it is still spreading in countries, various countries around the world. But we in the United States are in a better position than six months ago, three months ago. So the pandemic is not over but we are in a different phase,” she said.

Those who are up to date on their vaccinations “can make a personal choice to continue with your normal life, whatever that looks like for you, and be largely protected against serious illnesses. I think for me, personally, it’s a great feeling, especially with two young kids, to feel protected, right, because they got their shot.

Dunn said there was no longer a need for “big warrants, or closing restaurants and bars, that sort of thing. We’re past that point because we have such effective vaccines, where individuals can kind of take it upon themselves.

Yet the Biden administration’s warning that the nation could face 100 million new cases of COVID-19 this fall worries him, while modeling from the Utah Department of Health indicated that there could be up to 2,000 new cases in the daily state as of mid-June, more than four times the current average.

“These numbers freak me out,” Dunn said. She noted that while a rise in summer cases is concerning, since the pandemic began more than two years ago, “we haven’t come through a dip without a huge surge. Over the past two falls, we’ve just seen cases increase dramatically. »

But there “are very concrete things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones that make me feel less anxious,” she said, such as getting tested after being exposed to the virus, staying home. home if she is sick and get vaccinated. For those who don’t want the beatings, Dunn recommended masking with “a high-filtration respirator.”

And rather than focusing on the number of cases, she said Utahns should pay attention to the number of seriously ill people.

“If they’re all mild, like from a public health perspective, I don’t care how many runny noses there are. I just don’t,” Dunn said, adding that the goal remains to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

“It’s fine if you get COVID and are vaccinated, for the most part. I mean, it was painful to stay home for 10 days,” she said of her own infection. “Feeling good at the end is really, it’s a luxury, but it shouldn’t be. We should all be up to date with our vaccines and those who cannot get vaccinated or who are more vulnerable should be reassured that the vast majority of people around them are vaccinated. We’re just not there yet.

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