Utah reports 863 more coronavirus cases and six new deaths, and breaks hospitalization record

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing free access to critical stories about the coronavirus. Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter, sent to your inbox every weekday morning. To support journalism like this, please donate or become a subscriber.

Utah saw its biggest jump in COVID-19 cases Friday in more than a week, with 863 more people who have contracted the virus, and six more deaths, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Meanwhile, there were 225 Utah patients hospitalized, setting a new record.

“This is expected, unfortunately,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief medical operations officer at University of Utah Health.

Hospitalizations tend to be a “lagging factor,” Vinik said. So, when COVID-19 cases went up earlier this month in the state, health experts suspected that hospitalizations would similarly go up in the following two to four weeks. And they don’t “expect hospitalizations to come down anytime soon,” he said.

Vinik said he is hopeful, though, that since Salt Lake County appears to be stabilizing, there could be some decrease in hospitalizations in the weeks ahead.

Utah now has a total of 36,962 positive cases and 273 deaths. The six reported deaths Friday include:

  • Two men in Salt Lake County, ages 65 to 84, who lived in long-term care facilities.

  • A Salt Lake County woman over age 85 who lived in a long-term care facility.

  • A Salt Lake County man over age 90 who lived in a long-term care facility.

  • A Davis County woman, age 65 to 84, who lived in long-term care facilities.

  • A Washington County man, age 45 to 64, who died in a hospital.

In total, 2,188 Utahns have been admitted to hospitals for COVID-19.

Utahns ages 15 to 24 saw their biggest increase in cases Friday, up 260 from 7,897 on Thursday, to a total of 8,157.

The seven-day average was 614 new cases per day, up from Thursday’s average of 598. Gov. Gary Herbert has said he wants the state’s seven-day average to be below 500 new cases per day by Aug. 1.

Vinik said he worries about possible effects from the Pioneer Day holiday and the long weekend. It’s unclear whether holiday weekends caused recent spikes in cases, or if they were just a factor, he said.

While numbers went up after Memorial Day, that was also shortly after much of Utah went from a moderate “orange” risk level to a lower “yellow” status. And the state probably still hasn’t seen the full impact from the Fourth of July, he said.

As Utahns go out and get together this weekend, Vinik reiterated that people should limit group sizes, keep gatherings outdoors and wear masks.

“Those are the best things we can do,” he said. “We, as health care providers, are here when those fail, but we sure would love to see more prevention.”

For the past week, 9.1% of new tests came back positive, down slightly from Thursday’s average of 9.4%.

Of 36,962 Utahns who have tested positive for COVID-19, 23,715 are considered “recovered” — that is, they have survived for at least three weeks after being diagnosed.