Another 249 COVID-19 cases in Utah, and five deaths — as daily testing hits four-month low

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kylie Archuleta and Joshua Brimhall conduct COVID-19 testing at the University of Utah Health's Farmington Health Center on Friday, July 31, 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.

Utah’s rate of new coronavirus cases remained relatively low Monday — but the state also charted the lowest number of new tests results reported since mid-April.

There were 249 new coronavirus cases reported on Monday, for a seven-day average of 350 new cases per day, according to the Utah Department of Health.

But there were only 1,518 test results reported since Sunday, the health department wrote in a news statement — a fraction of the state’s capacity for about 9,000 tests per day, and the lowest number of new test results since April 15, when testing capacity had barely begun to stabilize after widespread shortages of testing chemicals and supplies.

Testing demand has been dropping since late July, state officials and hospital administrators have said; in mid-July, the state was reporting more than 7,000 new test results per day, on average.

UDOH spokesman Tom Hudachko said Monday that data on COVID-19 lab tests has been artificially low the last several days because of a delay in reporting results to the state’s Electronic Laboratory Reporting system.

In particular, one lab has been reporting its positive results, but not its negative ones, Hudachko said. UDOH is working with the lab to fix the problem and adjust the negative results.

The rate of tests with positive results was at 8.9% on Monday, up slightly from Sunday’s 8.4%. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has said a 3% positivity rate would indicate the virus is under control.

Statewide, Utah's rate of positive tests have been above 5% since May 25, according to UDOH data.

Hospitalizations were down slightly on Monday, with 130 Utah patients admitted, UDOH reported. On average, 134 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week, continuing a consistent 12-day decline — and well below the peak average of 211 patients hospitalized a little more than two weeks ago.

In total, 2,941 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, up 15 from Sunday.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 390 on Monday, with five fatalities reported since Sunday:

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

  • A San Juan County man, older than 85; the state did not report the location of his death.

  • A Uintah County woman, age 45 to 64, who died in a hospital.

  • A Utah County woman, older than 85, who died in a hospital.

  • A Wasatch County woman, age 65 to 84, who lived in a long-term care facility.

Of 49,364 Utahns who have tested positive for COVID-19, 41,164 are considered “recovered” — that is, they have survived for at least three weeks after being diagnosed.