While state continues to see drop in COVID-19 infections, Iron County lags behind

ST. GEORGE — Even as most of Utah continues to see a dramatic decrease in the number of COVID-19 infections, Iron County is one of the areas that is not. 

Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health, speaks during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 27, 2021 | Screenshot from Gov. Spencer Cox Facebook page, St. George News

Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health, said there is one prominent reason why Iron County is lagging behind the rest of the state. 

“It’s vaccination rates and masking behavior,” Hofmann said during the governor’s weekly COVID-19 press conference, mentioning that Iron County’s vaccination rates are among the lower end of the state’s counties. “And if you’re not vaccinated, you should still be wearing a mask.”

According to the Utah Department of Health, 38.3% of people in Iron County are fully vaccinated. This compares to 48.3% in Garfield County just to the east, where there have been no new COVID-19 infections in more than two weeks, and around 41% in Washington County and 50% in the rest of the state.

Iron County is the only area of the state south of Millard County that is above the low transmission rate in the Utah Department of Health’s COVID-19 Transmission Index. As of Thursday, the state’s health department said that Iron County’s case rate is at 180.53 per 100,000 people – more than double the rate in Washington County, which has more than twice the population. 

This is a slight change from the week before, when the home county of Cedar City was at 195.1. To be low, a county needs to be below 100. Currently, Washington County is at 88.9. And of Iron County’s other neighbors, Beaver County is at 59.61 and Garfield County – having had no cases in two weeks – is at 0. 

Outside Iron County, Utah overall saw a significant one-week drop in the number of people per day coming down with COVID-19. The statewide per-day average is now 245, compared to 328 per day as of last Thursday, according to the Utah Department of Health. 

Map shows the current level of each county in Utah according to the COVID-19 Transmission Index provided by the Utah Department of Health as of May 27, 2021. | Photo courtesy Utah Department of Health, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The key, Hofmann said, goes back again to vaccinations. She said since Jan. 1, 99.5% of new infections, 98.7% of hospitalizations and 99.9% of deaths from COVID-19 deaths have been of people who are unvaccinated.

“This is the magic bullet,” Hofmann said. 

The press event in Salt Lake City marked another turning point in the tail-end of the pandemic: Gov. Spencer Cox said it would be the last weekly COVID-19 press conference, opting to provide bi-weekly updates. He is also closing down his task force in favor of letting the state Department of Health oversee the remainder of the pandemic. 

Even so, Cox mentioned that he has a friend on oxygen in the hospital with COVID-19 at this moment who he said had been planning to get the vaccine but had been putting it off. 

With that, he made a plea for others who have put off getting vaccination to get their shots. 

“Since we made vaccinations available for everyone, we’ve had 70 people who have died; those are each completely preventable deaths,” Cox said. “When we announce a death now, they don’t have to happen.”

In the month of May, there have been seven COVID-19 deaths recorded in Southern Utah according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, though the last death recorded was a week ago. 

Something Cox said he forgot about was a prediction he made during his Feb. 25 press conference where he said, “I’m telling you. I’m not going to be wearing this on the 4th of July.”

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 27, 2021 | Screenshot from Gov. Spencer Cox Facebook page, St. George News

On Thursday, Cox said while he was confident about his July prediction, he wasn’t as confident that his prediction would come true before Memorial Day as the Centers for Disease Control ended its recommendation for mask wearing and physical distancing for those who are vaccinated on May 13.  

“Looking back, I took a lot of heat for the July 4 comment,” Cox said. “At that time, we didn’t think we would be able to open vaccines to everyone until May.”

All Utahns ended up becoming eligible for the vaccine just a month after Cox’s prediction on March 24.

At this point, Cox’s prediction is that the pandemic can be done for good if the state goes beyond the 50% or so of Utahns that are currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And while he is still considering some kind of monetary reward or lottery for those who are fully vaccinated, he still sees that as a last resort.

“We’re very fiscally conservative in this state so if it’s not necessary, we should expend them and it shouldn’t be necessary,” Cox said. “It would be great if we didn’t need any incentives at all. Not dying should be a great incentive.”

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 vaccinefinder.org 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.
  • Must register in advance online for an appointment time, though some pharmacies are offering walk-up appointments.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Proof of residency may be required, though a person does not have to reside in the county they are receiving the vaccine. Part-time residents can get vaccinated with proof of residency.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • Those without email addresses or unable to make reservations online can get help at a specialized hotline at 435-986-2549.
  • To get alerts for when new vaccine appointments are added with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, text SWUHEALTH to 888777.
  • To receive a free ride to and from a vaccine appointment through Lyft, call 211.
  • Busineses, organizations and religious institutions can have a mobile vaccination clinic come to their campus free of charge by going to either this link or call the Southwest Utah Public Health Department at (435) 673-3528.

Washington County:

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

Reservations: Click to register 

Iron County:

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

Reservations: Click to register 

Kane County:

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

Reservations: Click to register 

Garfield County:

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

Reservations: Click to register

Beaver County:

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

Reservations: Click to register

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.

Reservations: Click to register

Revere Health:

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

Reservations: Click to register

Rocky Vista University:

Where: Rocky Vista University – Southern Utah Campus,  255 E. Center St. in Ivins.

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 vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you

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, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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