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Leaders Plead With Utahns To Do Their Part As State Reports 1,543 New COVID Cases

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Health leaders on Thursday announced that transmission levels have gone up in most counties in the state.

Duchesne, Iron and Uintah counties are in the Moderate Level, and Daggett, Kane, Piute, Rich and Wayne counties are in the Low Level.

The rest of the state’s counties are now in the High Level of Transmission.

Gov. Herbert Holds Monthly News Conference

LIVE: Gov. Herbert is holding his monthly news conference, which will include the state's COVID-19 updates.

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, October 22, 2020

Utah Department of Health Director Rich Saunders during a news conference Thursday announced that Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Carbon, Davis, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Juab, Millard, Morgan, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Utah, Wasatch, Washington and Weber counties are now in the High Transmission Level based on the the state’s three metrics: the seven-day percent of positivity, the 14-day case rate per 100,000 population, and the statewide intensive care unit utilization.

Details on the state’s transmission levels can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov.

Saunders reminded Utahns that those in high and moderate levels are required to wear masks in all public settings and must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between parties while inside restaurants and bars. Casual social gatherings are also limited to 10 individuals or fewer.

“We know counties will be able to get back to moderate or low because they were very recently in moderate or low until the most recent surge,” he said. “We know we can work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Hospitalizations Surging

Gov. Gary Herbert during the news conference pleaded with Utahns to take COVID-19 precautions seriously.

He said the state recognizes that most of those who contract the virus won’t die, and many might not show symptoms at all. However many patients may suffer lifelong effects, including damage to heart muscles, thrombosis, and damage to the brain and nervous systems.

The governor said major hospitals have started to decline new patients in their intensive care units and have had to activate surge plans.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Eddie Stenehjem spoke Thursday about the issue Utah hospitals are facing as the state’s ICU occupancy is now at 73.9%.

“I wish I could take you on rounds with me,” he said. “For the first time as a physician, I’m scared to see what is to come.”

Stenehjem said hospitals will soon have to accommodate more patients by moving those patients to different hospitals.

He also noted that the physical capacity to house patients is a moot point if there aren’t staff to provide care. He said those caregivers and non medical staff are the most valuable resource, and they are being stretched thin.

COVID-19 Numbers

State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn reported 1,543 new COVID-19 cases and six new deaths.

The Utah Department of Health noted that a previously reported death of a Davis County woman who was between the ages of 65 – 84 has been removed from the state’s COVID-19 mortality totals after further investigation from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

That brings the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 563. The state reported the following deaths Thursday:

  • Female, between 65-84, Davis County resident, hospitalized at time of death
  • Male, older than 85, Garfield County resident, not hospitalized at time of death
  • Female, between 65-84, Juab County resident, hospitalized at time of death
  • Female, between 45-64, Salt Lake County resident, long-term care facility resident
  • Male, between 45-64, Salt Lake County resident, hospitalized at time of death
  • Male, between 65-84, Utah County resident, hospitalized at time of death

There are 73 new hospitalizations, and there are currently 301 patients hospitalized with the virus. The seven-day rolling average for new COVID-19 cases is 1,289, and the rolling seven-day average for percent of positive cases is now at 15.5%.

The state is considering 73,586 cases as “recovered,” meaning those patients received a positive diagnosis more than three weeks ago and they have not died. It should be noted that some of those considered “recovered” may still be experiencing symptoms and continuing effects of COVID-19.

Pleas From Health Leaders

Dunn has asked residents of the Beehive State to be proactive for months, but she reiterated the importance of it as the state faces not only surging hospitalizations, but also an upcoming flu season.

“We have prioritized asking individuals to take proper actions, but our hospitals are getting full,” Dunn said, adding that hospitals haven’t begun to admit patients for influenza yet.

“We don’t know how long it will take us to get through this pandemic, but we will get there,” she said. “I know we will get through this by coming together as a team.”

Stenehjem said he and the health care community are saddened by the loss of life they’re seeing in the hospitals, and he’s calling on Utah to step up.

“Masking is the simples approach we can take,” he said. “When two individuals wear a mask, it’s virtually impossible to transmit the virus between them.”

“We are being tested,” Stenehjem added. “If we fail this test, our health care system may not be there for you when you need it.”

For more information on COVID-19 in Utah, go to coronvirus.utah.gov.

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