As hospitals are ‘underwater’, Salt Lake County leaders push for masks and vaccines to fight COVID-19


A teacher whose husband has leukemia and a health worker share their stories as part of a new public health campaign to get people vaccinated.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shelly Wenzbauer is overcome with emotion during a press conference encouraging vaccinations and the use of masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 .

Like other Utahns, Shelly Wenzbauer “suffered” from the coronavirus pandemic last year, she said, and was “frustrated to see things closed” while working as a high school biology teacher .

“Then last December my husband was diagnosed with leukemia, and it changed my life,” Wenzbauer said, turning away from the microphone as she cried at a new conference Tuesday outside the county government center. of Salt Lake.

As Wenzbauer spoke to reporters, her husband was hospitalized for a bone marrow transplant, she said. While the couple both got vaccinated, her husband’s vaccine was “completely ineffective” now with her white blood cell count at zero, hampering her body’s ability to fight COVID-19.

“Things are looking really good. They are positive, ”Wenzbauer said of his condition. “But,” she said in tears, “I need the help of the community” to keep her husband and others safe.

Mayor Jenny Wilson said her team was using their resources to coordinate with schools and testing teams to curb the current wave of COVID-19 in Hive State.

“What we need now,” she said, “are policy makers ready to step in.”

Specifically, the county mayor said she wanted to see heads of state and parliament working on mask and immunization policy.

“We’ve had a lot of interventions along the way,” Wilson said, with restaurants affected and businesses closed during the pandemic.

“We are not suggesting this,” she said. “What we are suggesting,” said the mayor, is to have people who have not already been vaccinated and that the Utahns wear a mask when they are with other people.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks at a press conference promoting mask use in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

That’s the message Wilson and Dr Angela Dunn, executive director of the county’s health department, pushed at the press conference in Salt Lake City, where they announced a new vaccination campaign.

According to Wilson, 85% of people who died from COVID-19 in Salt Lake County from the start of the year to September 10 were not vaccinated. And those who haven’t received the vaccine are more likely to get sick with COVID-19 and be hospitalized with the virus, she said.

“The politics associated with this pandemic has obscured the scientific facts and the human impact COVID has had on our families, friends and communities,” Dunn said.

Wenzbauer and other Utahns have shared their personal stories in the new phase of the “This Is Our Shot” campaign, Dunn said, “so we can learn from them, before it’s too late for the rest. of us”.

The county had people who have lost loved ones to the virus, are suffering from a lengthy COVID and “whose livelihoods have been severely affected by this pandemic,” Dunn said. They include healthcare workers, teachers, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, she said.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Angela Dunn speaks at a press conference encouraging the wearing of the mask in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

“Right now our hospitals are under water,” Wilson said, overcapacity in intensive care units and surgeries being delayed.

“It’s a very, very scary time for us as a community,” she said.

“The nurses are tired. Doctors are tired, ”said Erika Tse, a pediatric assistant in the Salt Lake City area, who also features in the county campaign. “We can no longer continue to wage this fight without the help of the community.

“Each person’s decisions make a difference,” she said. “Don’t think yours won’t make a difference.”

And “to those who say masks don’t work in our leadership in this very state, we have proof right now that it works,” Tse said.

Before the start of the school year, Mayor Erin Mendenhall placed an order for emergency masks for schools in Salt Lake City. On Monday, Dunn said schools in the capital currently have the lowest transmission rate among the county’s five school districts, as well as the highest vaccination rate.

Tse urged people to speak with their health care providers about any concerns they might have about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Please read the legitimate, 100% scientific facts,” Tse said, emphasizing the word “legitimate”. “Don’t believe things from your neighbors or sites that aren’t fully verified.”

Utah residents can find out where to get vaccinated at

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Posters at a press conference encouraging the wearing of masks in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

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