Six more Utahns die of COVID-19, while case count continues to slow

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Mike Green uses an umbrella to stay cool while working at the COVID-19 testing site at the University of Utah Health's Farmington Health Center on Friday, July 31, 2020.

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Six more Utahns have died from COVID-19 and another 506 have tested positive for the virus, the Utah Department of Health reported Saturday.

Three of the people who died were from Salt Lake County. They include a woman, older than 85 and a man between 65-84 — both were residents in long-term care facilities. The third was male, older than 85, who was hospitalized.

Two men from Utah County also were among the reported deaths. One was between 65-85 and living in a longer-term care facility; the other was between 45-64 and was hospitalized at the time of his death.

The sixth death was a San Juan County woman, 65-84, who was hospitalized.

In all 310 Utahns have died from the coronavirus.

The rolling seven-day average for positive laboratory tests is now 431 per day or 9.9%. That number is well below the target of 500 that Gov. Gary Herbert set for Aug. 1. He made the challenge three weeks ago, when the rolling average daily case count was at 583, and he announced a mask mandate for schools but declined to issue a statewide mask order.

The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Utah Education Association, has called on Herbert to order schools closed this fall, saying it’s too dangerous to return to classrooms. But school openings are going forward — although some districts have delayed the start date — as the districts submit reopening plans, many with hybrid options for some in-class and some remote instruction.

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, said on social media Friday night that it’s up to parents to make these tough choices. As for her, she said she is sending her son to school and “my toddler has been in daycare throughout the pandemic. But this is a personal decision — I trust the prevention measures in place at the school, I don’t live with anyone at high risk for severe disease. But risk still exists.”

She encouraged all Utahns to “determine the risk level we are willing to accept as individuals. My entire family wears masks in public and physical distances. We don’t have dinner with friends, haven’t gone to a restaurant, no kid play dates.”

So far, 533,260 people in Utah have been tested for the coronavirus, an increase of 4,350 people from Friday, UDOH officials reported.

There currently are 210 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 35 new patients but the running total of current hospitalizations had dipped slightly from a reported 213 on Friday. Total hospitalizations since the beginning of the outbreak are 2,412.

As of Saturday, the state considers 28,747 people “recovered,” which, by health experts’ definition, means they are still alive at least three weeks from being diagnosed with the disease.

Tribune news editor Dan Harrie contributed to this report.