Utah Breaks Previous Record With 911 New COVID-19 Cases In One Day
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Department of Health on Thursday announced 911 new COVID-19 cases.
No new deaths were reported.
It breaks the state’s previous record of 875 new cases in a single day, which was set in July.
LIVE: Gov. Gary Herbert and state epidemiologist Angela Dunn are holding a press conference with updates on the COVID-19 situation in Utah
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, September 17, 2020
The rolling seven day average for positive tests is now 661 per day, and the rolling seven-day average for percent of positive laboratory tests has reached 11.9%. The state has tested 735,138 people so far, and 60,658 of those tests returned positive. A total of 931,331 tests have been issued.
There are currently 120 patients hospitalized with the virus, 54 of which are in intensive care units. Another 50 patients are currently hospitalized as COVID-19 persons under investigation. UDOH reports 55.8% of all non-ICU beds and 69.1% of all ICU beds in Utah hospitals are occupied.
Hospitalizations have been declining since August. However, cases through the summer were also declining. It’s too soon to tell if the recent spike in COVID-19 cases will lead to an increase in hospitalizations.
A total of 437 Utahns have died from the virus.
The state is considering 50,108 cases as recovered, meaning those patients received a positive diagnosis more than three weeks ago and they have not died.
State leaders made it clear they are very concerned over the spike in cases.
State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the seven day rolling average of 661 cases is especially alarming. “We have gotten to this peak of a seven day rolling average of 661 new cases in one week. During the summer, it took us six weeks to reach this level.”
Governor Gary Herbert said state leaders are discussing how to address the spike and will announce any new actions, including possible government mandates, sometime in the next several days. Herbert repeated what he has often said during the pandemic, that he would prefer mandates come from local leaders rather than state leaders.
Dunn said, “The initial part of this current surge was driven by 15 to 24 year olds, but in the recent days we have seen an increase across all of our ages, so we need to take immediate action to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths in the state.”
Herbert said one of the immediate actions has taken is postponing a decision on the request from several counties to change color safety designations. A decision on those requests will have to wait until at least next week.
Dunn said, “I’m especially concerned with what we are seeing in Utah County. They have been experiencing a surge for the past three weeks with the greatest increase in the past week.”
Dunn added, “40% of our new cases in this past week are from Utah County, but they only account for about 20% of our state’s population and there’s parts of Utah County that have infection rates of 1,400 cases per hundred thousand people.”
She said that is approximately six time greater than the state’s infection rate. “We are on pace to match or exceed infection rates that we have seen in the Navajo Nation and in New York City.”
Governor Herbert reiterated that in the past several months the news regarding coronavirus had generally been good. “This is not one of those good news days,” he said during Thursday’s COVID-19 weekly update.
During a meeting Thursday morning with the Utah Unified Command, Herbert announced a new focus on testing which will allow anyone who wants a test to get a test. He said he will be working with the legislature to find the funds to pay for it and indicated details will be released soon along with other potential measures which could include stronger government intervention.
“Some of this was not surprising, in the fact we have a spike, it is a little surprising in the magnitude of the spike, and how the numbers have accelerated so greatly,” he said.
Herbert cited a return to school, at both public school and universities which is allowing for more social interaction.
“We’re finding that the age group that’s spiking the fastest right now is the 15 to 24-year olds,” he said.
He equated the spike in the younger population to being “a canary in a coal mine.”
He called it “a red flag warning for all of us that things are happening out there.”
The Governor laid out a list of reasons the new data on spiking cases is so alarming.
- Case counts are growing when they should be stabilizing and dropping.
- Questions over what the spike in cases means for additional hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks.
- People who ignore health guidelines and those who are promoting social gatherings that are in “defiance” recommendations from health officials.
Herbert added he was alarmed by people who do not believe in the science behind preventing infections.
“Just because you find it on YouTube or the internet doesn’t mean it’s correct,” he said.
Herbert and Dunn reiterated several times the effectiveness of wearing masks, social distancing and staying home when sick.
“We know wearing a mask is inconvenient. We know wearing a mask is not fun to do,” he said. “But it’s a little bit of sacrifice, a little bit of inconvenience that will help us for the overall goal of stemming the tide, of the growth of this pandemic.”
“I wear the mask to protect you, you wear the mask to protect me. That’s how this virus works, and that’s how we ought to practice our association one with one another and show the concern we have for our neighbors,” Herbert said.
The Governor said now is the time for elected officials to meet with local health leaders to review data and formulate a local response to any noted growth in case numbers.
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