Almost all Utah communities with the highest coronavirus case rates also have low vaccination rates

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Melannie Hall administers the vaccination to Kate Okabe, at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center, at the Vaccination clinic at the University of Utah, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

Of the ten Utah communities with highest coronavirus case rates, nearly all have vaccination rates under 40%.

The lone exception is South Jordan, which reported 232 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks — a rate classified by the state as “very high” — despite more than half of residents being vaccinated.

The other communities in the top ten have low vaccination rates, according to case counts used by state officials to track local health trends. Officials break the state into 99 “small areas” to chart the spread of the virus. The area encompassed by Daggett and Uintah counties — which has the highest case rate in the state at nearly 500 new cases per 100,000 people — also has the state’s lowest vaccination rate, with less than 25% fully vaccinated.

In addition to South Jordan, Kaysville and Woods Cross reported “very high” case rates as of Thursday, despite more than half of residents there being vaccinated.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lower coronavirus vaccination rates are increasingly correlating with higher case rates, according to “small area” data from the Utah Department of Health.

Most of the communities with the highest vaccination rates also have the lowest case rates. Six Utah communities reported more than 60% of residents were vaccinated; five of them have kept case rates below 100 in 100,000 people for the past two weeks. Tourism-heavy Park City reported more than 100 in every 100,000 people tested positive in the past 14 days, despite having the state’s highest vaccination rate of more than 70%.

But not all communities with the lowest case rates have high vaccination rates. Seventeen of Utah’s 99 small areas reported fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people; more than half of those had vaccination rates of less than 50%. The Sanpete Valley dropped below 100 case per 100,000 residents despite a vaccination rate of just 26.4%.

Between Utah’s most-vaccinated and least-vaccinated communities, the relationship between vaccination rates and case rates is somewhat mixed — in part because the highly-contagious Delta Variant appears to be causing cases to rise even in communities where 50 to 60% of residents are vaccinated. As of late May, 53 of Utah’s 99 small areas reported more than 100 new case for every 100,000 people. As of Thursday, 82 of the 99 small areas had case rates that high.

And in late May, only four small areas had “very high” case rates — more than 200 new cases for every 100,000 people. On Thursday, 23 small areas had case rates that high.

Regardless of where the virus spreads, it appears the gulf in vaccination rates among Utah’s communities is likely to widen. In general, communities with the highest vaccination rates also have the most people still waiting for their second shot.

In Park City, for example, 70% of residents are fully vaccinated — but nearly 80% have had at least one shot, which suggests the vaccination rate will continue to rise.

Meanwhile, in Blanding, where just 33% are fully vaccinated, only 35% have had at least one shot.