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.
Another 500 Utahns have tested positive for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported Friday — taking the rolling seven-day average well below the target of 500 that Gov. Gary Herbert set earlier this month.
Four more Utahns have died from COVID-19, UDOH reported — bringing the state’s overall death toll from the virus to 304.
Two of the people whose deaths were reported are Salt Lake County men, between the ages of 65 and 84, who were living in long-term care facilities. UDOH also reported the deaths of a Cache County man, also between 65 and 84 and living in long-term care, and a San Juan County woman, between 65 and 84, who was hospitalized at the time of her death.
Friday’s 500 new cases brings the state’s overall case count to 40,196.
The rolling seven-day average — which public-health experts use to gauge trends — was down to 457 cases per day on Friday. A week ago, the average was up to 627 cases per day. Three weeks ago, when the rate was at 583 per day, Herbert issued a challenge to Utahns to get the rate below 500 by Aug. 1, which is Saturday.
The state reported 4,543 new tests performed in 24 hours, bringing the number of Utahns tested since the pandemic began to 528,910. The rolling seven-day average of positive lab tests is at 9.9%
In the last seven days, the state has averaged 4,977 tests per day, well below the 6,609 tests per day the week before. State officials have suggested the Pioneer Day holiday, on July 24, may be one reason fewer Utahns got tested this week.
But the lull in testing appeared to continue through the week in Farmington, where a testing center at a University of Utah clinic drew scant traffic on Friday morning.
“Usually it’s a whole line,” said Nikki Gilmore, senior nursing director of ambulatory care for U. clinics, as she gestured toward the empty driveway near the testing tents. Gilmore estimated tests at the four U. sites were down 10% to 15% this week. The decline, she said, is “not crazy huge, but it’s noticeable.”
Gilmore noted that previous holidays have preceded testing lulls, followed by a spike after about a week.
“It’s just the roller coaster of COVID,” she said.
There are 213 people now hospitalized with COVID-19, UDOH reported. That includes 31 people who entered the hospital in a day. The total number of hospitalizations in Utah from COVID-19 is now 2,377.
As of Friday, the state considers 28,130 people “recovered” from COVID-19 — which, by health experts’ definition, means they are still alive at least three weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.