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Utah reports five more deaths but lowest new coronavirus cases in nearly a month

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Blood samples to be tested for coronavirus antibodies are stored in refrigerators inside the Huntsman Cancer Institute Cancer Screening bus while in Park City on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, as part of a mobile testing site. The Utah HERO (Health & Economic Recovery Outreach) program is performing randomized testing of 10,000 Utahns across four counties. The data gathered will inform decision-makers in the state as they work to help keep residents safe and get people back to work.

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Five more Utahns have died from COVID-19, the state’s health department announced Tuesday, bringing Utah’s death count to 73.

The new deaths, part of a sobering trend in the past week, also were announced on a day when the state added only 70 more coronavirus cases to the overall tally. That’s just a 1.1% daily increase. It’s the lowest increase in new cases announced in nearly a month and increases the state’s total to 6,432. The last time an announced count was below 70 was April 14, when the state added 49 new cases.

The health department also reports that 3,267 of those cases are considered “recovered,” meaning it’s been three weeks since they were first diagnosed and they are alive. That’s more than half of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Utah.

And the state’s epidemic curve — which looks at three-day daily average of cases and assigns an upward, downward or neutral trend — shows a decline on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

However, the state warns, “Epidemic curve status can fluctuate from day to day so trends need to be interpreted cautiously and in conjunction with other surveillance data.”

So far, 153,485 people have been tested for the coronavirus in Utah, with a positivity rate of 4.2%. The health department reported 2,900 more tests Tuesday, lower than the more than 4,000 reported from Sunday into Monday.

More people are also being hospitalized for the virus in Utah, with 99 people actively hospitalized, up from 92 the day before. An additional 67 people in hospitals who are under investigation for COVID-19.

Tuesday’s death toll is also just one less than the state’s high, which was six deaths on April 6.

Four of the new deaths occurred in Salt Lake County. Two were men between the ages of 60 and 84. One lived in a long-term care facility and the other was hospitalized at the time of his death The two others were women, both older than 85 and living in long-term care facilities.

The fifth person who died was a woman older than 85, who lived in a long-term care facility in Weber County.

So far 35 of Utah’s 73 deaths have involved residents of long-term care facilities. The state is launching an effort to test all staffers at these facilities hoping to head off future outbreaks.

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