Rate of positive COVID-19 results increasing in Utah as cases near 10,000

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo ) Phlebotomist Adriana Rodriguez performs a blood draw to test for coronavirus antibodies in Park City on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, as part of the Utah HERO (Health & Economic Recovery Outreach) program. The massive undertaking will begin with 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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Nearly 10,000 Utahns have tested positive for COVID-19, with the percentage of people testing positive rising quickly over the past week.

The Utah Department of Health reported 202 new cases on Monday, continuing a five-day trend of daily jumps of over 200 cases statewide. There have been 9,999 Utahns diagnosed with the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

UDOH reported receiving 4,198 new test results since Sunday, with a total of 218,112 people having been tested in total. The percent of patients who tested positive for the past week was 7.1%, well above the previous week’s positivity rate of 5.2%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4.6% of Utahns who tested for COVID-19 received positive results.

For the prior seven-day period (May 19-May 25) there were 1,003 new positive cases reported, an average of 143 per day. Lab tests performed increased by 19,157 over the same timeframe, for a 7-day positivity rate of 5.2%.

One of the biggest recent increases is in the rural Bear River Health District in northern Utah. After posting daily case increases in the single digits for the entire epidemic, new cases suddenly shot up by 39 on Friday and by 34 and 28 on Saturday and Sunday.

The department's case investigators "have been very busy," but they haven't identified a single source for the dramatic spike, said Joshua Greer, spokesman for the department.

“We’re kind of seeing cases from all over: People who work for different employers, people who live in different parts of the valley," Greer said. "We’re not seeing a specific employer or a specific event tied to them.”

There has been more testing, with the state sending mobile test sites to northern Utah, Greer said — but the most recent weekly test totals had not yet been compiled, so it's not clear whether the increasing in testing is proportional with the increase in cases.

Meanwhile, he said, residents are starting to let their guard down as Gov. Gary Herbert lowers the state's risk rating.

“We know it’s been a couple of weeks since we moved to the ‘yellow’ rating, and people are getting together more,” Greer said.

Fourteen people had been hospitalized with COVID-19 since Sunday, UDOH reported. That brings the total number of hospitalizations to 789 patients, 95 of whom were still in hospitals on Monday.

No new fatalities were reported on Monday; the state’s death toll remains at 113.