5 Things Utah: Children’s uninsured rate, COVID vaccine update, Tribal health

I tested positive for COVID last week, and went through mild but significant enough symptoms that they rattled me a bit. It worked out fine in the end. I’m through it and I expect to come out of my quarantine in my home office at the end of the day today.

No one in my family got it. No one at my place of work got it. No one on my street or social circles got it. I caught it because of a routine test ahead of a minor outpatient procedure I had planned.

I think the reason it was so mild for me and that no one else caught it is that when I came in contact with the viral load, I had a mask on. My viral dosage was limited because of my mask – and I caught it early, luckily.

So, you just never know when you’ll come in contact with this thing. And, while it was manageable for me, it was still worrying. Best to keep the mask on, and your mental health intact as we head into the dark winter.

Anyway, that’s advice that’s worth what you paid for it…





With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Number of uninsured Utah children increased by 39% between 2016 and 2019

An estimated 82,000 Utah children were uninsured last year, which constitutes a 39% spike since 2016, according to a new Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report. At 39%, Utah had the third largest increase in its child uninsured rate nationwide. The state’s rate of uninsured children was 8.3% in 2019, compared to a national rate of 5.7%.

The number of uninsured children increased every year from 2016-2019. Despite a strong economy, the largest increase was observed between 2018 and 2019 when the number of children without coverage rose by 320,000. This number of represents the largest annual jump in uninsured coverage seen in over a decade. The data included in the report was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means the number of uninsured children is likely higher in 2020.

2. ICYMI: Leadership Series on COVID vaccine

Utah surpassed its record for COVID hospitalizations last week and the governor said it is “unsustainable” for hospitals to continue operating overcapacity. Looking to the future, I received an update on vaccine development from David Hering, Pfizer’s North American Regional President for Vaccines, as part of our virtual “Leadership Series.”

In the video interview, Hering says vaccine developers are on the cusp of a real leap in science, particularly as it relates to the mRNA model vaccines being developed by Pfizer and others. “The ability to basically tell your own cells to…provide antibodies for these diseases instead of having to put the actual virus, you know attenuated or other ways, into the bloodstream is a really fantastic advancement and one that should have broad applicability,” says Hering.

3. McAdams and Owens neck and neck

In Utah’s 4th Congressional District, Republican challenger Burgess Owens is leading Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams by one point in the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. In September’s poll, McAdams was ahead of Owens, 45% to 41%.

Unfavorable ads have been the difference maker in this race, said Jason Perry, Hinckley Institute Director. In the last month, there was a 15% point drop, from 33% to 18%, in the poll among Republicans who have a favorable view of McAdams. The unfavorable messaging in the 4th CD stands in stark contrast to the gubernatorial race, where Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Democratic challenger Chris Peterson joined together in a rare unity ad this week.

4. Tribal outreach focused on Medicaid expansion and trauma resiliency

Medicaid Enrollment among Utah’s American Indian/Alaskan Native Health (AI/AN) population increased from 8,183 to 10,257 between January and September of 2020. Melissa Zito, UDOH’s AI/AN Health Liaison, said that based on outreach efforts, there is full support for Medicaid Expansion in tribal communities.

Along with increasing Medicaid enrollment, Zito said at a recent Native American Legislative Liaison hearing that stakeholders are conducting outreach to investigate the health implications of resiliency in tribal communities. “How does that resiliency from generations of trauma impact their physical health and what does that mean?” she asked.

5. Health & Human Services Committee looks at tele-behavioral health

At a joint Health and Human Services Committee hearing this week, members reviewed the Telehealth Mental Health Pilot ProgramChild Protection Unit Pilot Program, a report from the Utah Commission on Aging, and a COVID-19 vaccination update.

To excerpt some data from the presentation on the Telehealth Mental Health Pilot Program, the program served 184 total youth over 2 years in both urban and rural settings. A 12.4% decrease in symptoms was observed among youth in the program. The number of youth receiving telehealth services increased from 56 in 2017 to 8,777 in 2020.