Sunday sees 350 new coronavirus cases, a significant drop that may have been influenced by holiday weekend

(Spenser Heaps | Deseret News, pool) Gov. Gary Herbert holds a surgical mask after speaking during a press briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

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.

The Utah Department of Health reported just one coronavirus-related death on Saturday, and none on Sunday.

Despite that good fortune, the past week still ranked as the deadliest since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March.

For the seven-day period from July 20 to July 26, the state reported 32 deaths. That marks a new one-week record, eclipsing the 31 deaths that occurred earlier this month from July 6 to July 12.

Of those 32 deaths, 10 were reported Wednesday, which marked the second time since the pandemic that Utah has seen double-digit deaths reported in a single day. Both instances have taken place inside the past two weeks after 10 were reported on July 14.

After zero deaths were reported Sunday, the state’s total death count was sitting at 274.

Overall, it was an uneven COVID-19 week for the state.

From July 20 to July 26, 3,856 new cases were reported. After case numbers had crept north of 700 and even 800 per day in recent weeks, things appeared to be calming down some. There were 409 cases on July 20 and 486 on Tuesday, but Friday saw a significant spike with 863. Saturday’s total was a bit lower but still reached 661.

The state reported a significant drop Sunday with 350 cases, which was the first time the tally was under 400 since June 23 saw 394. A large decrease to 350 could have had something to do with Pioneer Day falling on Friday. Furthermore, testing centers could have been closed for the holiday, which would mean the positive tests they normally would have gotten back in 24 to 48 hours didn’t happen.

Through Sunday, Utah’s statewide case count now stands at 37,973.

Hospitalizations continued to rise last week, but that number fluctuated, too. On July 20, the state reported 186 current hospitalizations. That number rose to 225 on Thursday and settled at 210 on Sunday. There have been 2,234 total hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Hospitalizations are up, but Salt Lake County, Utah’s most-populous health district, stands out after it added 72 hospitalizations last week for a total of 1,170.

Utah County added 907 new cases and 27 new hospitalizations over the course of the past week, July 20 through July 26.