Utah reports largest one-day rise in COVID-19 cases, and one new fatality

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo ) Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, speaks at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

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The state of Utah had the largest one-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday — with a spike of 343 new cases, the Utah Department of Health reported.

But the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Angela Dunn, urged “caution against jumping to conclusions” about that number. “One day does not make a trend,” Dunn said in a statement issued by UDOH.

“Comparing weekly cases over the past two weeks, we have seen a 3% increase in daily cases,” Dunn said. “Specifically, we have seen 1,197 new cases in the current week, compared to 1,162 cases in the week prior.”

Friday’s increase in cases — a 3.8% increase from the day before — could be explained, Dunn said, by the lull attributed to the Memorial Day weekend. Or, she said, there could be “an actual uptick in cases,” including outbreaks like the one happening at the Salt Lake Veterans Home.

“We want to see where we go over the weekend,” agreed Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the health department in Salt Lake County, where cases rose by 118 between Thursday and Friday — the third biggest leap so far. “Given that we think we were lower because of a lull over the holiday, I think we want to not be alarmist until we have a few more days of data.”

Although the jump could just be an anomaly in the timing of when tests are reported, he said, Utahns should still be taking precautions in public.

“Everyone should still be wearing their face coverings and practicing social distancing as much as possible,” he said.

Friday’s leap brings the total number of cases of COVID-19 statewide since the pandemic began to 9,264.

UDOH reported one new death in Utah from COVID-19: a Salt Lake County woman, over the age of 85, who was living in a long-term care facility. Her death brings the overall number of fatalities in the state to 107.

The state was anticipating a rise in cases as restrictions loosened around the state, Dunn said. She and other public health officials are also watching the proxy transmission rate — a metric based on new hospitalizations and the use of intensive care units.

The state’s transmission rate now stands at 1.1%, and use of ICUs “remains well below our threshold level,” Dunn said.

Nineteen more people were admitted to a hospital in Utah because of COVID-19, compared to the day before, UDOH reported. As of Friday, there were 101 people still hospitalized; there have been 753 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

The state reported 2,348 more tests for COVID-19 have been administered in the last day. That brings the total to 205,855, with a positive rate of 4.5%.

The state considers 5,813 cases “recovered” — which is defined by UDOH as going three weeks since being diagnosed and not dying.

UDOH, Dunn said, “will continue to watch our daily case counts closely, with the goal of preventing widespread, community transmission.”

She also issued a reminder to Utahns: “Low and moderate risk does not mean ‘no risk.’ We all have a responsibility to be proactive and to do the things we know will help limit the spread of this virus.”

Those include staying home if you’re sick, washing your hands thoroughly and often, using hand sanitizer, maintaining social distancing, and wearing a face mask where necessary.