Utah reports five new school outbreaks of coronavirus on Tuesday, but overall cases are down

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Teacher Cara Bailey joined protesters on Thursday, July 23, 2020, during the Mask-In and Car Caravan at the Capitol to demand the governor and other state and local leaders ensure that Utah schools protect students and staff when schools reopen.

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Utah’s rate of new coronavirus cases was down slightly on Tuesday, but school outbreaks surged, with the biggest one-day rise in school cases since the fall term began.

There were five new school outbreaks reported in the past day, linked to 14 new cases and one new hospitalization, the Utah Department of Health reported. The state defines an outbreak as two or more cases within 14 days.

Since public schools began opening on Aug. 13, there have been 14 outbreaks in schools, affecting 76 patients. On Tuesday, American Preparatory Academy’s Draper 1 campus shut down and planned to temporarily shift all learning online, after 15 students and staff there tested positive.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 121 patients infected in 25 school outbreaks, with a median age of 18. Seven of those patients have been hospitalized; none have died.

With 296 new coronavirus cases reported statewide on Tuesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses declined slightly, staying under the governor’s target of fewer than 400 cases per day.

For the past seven days, Utah has averaged 374 new positive test results per day, UDOH reported on Tuesday, the deadline for Gov. Gary Herbert’s goal to get the state below 400 new cases per day. Utah’s rate of new coronavirus cases dipped below 400 nearly three weeks ago.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 409 on Tuesday, with two fatalities reported since Monday:

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

  • A Salt Lake County man, older than 85, who was not hospitalized when he died.

Hospitalizations were up slightly on Tuesday, with 126 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported.

On average, 120 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week — the same as Monday’s average, and well below the peak average of 211 patients hospitalized each day at the end of July.

In total, 3,110 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, up 17 from Monday.

There were 4,666 new test results reported on Tuesday, below the weeklong average of 4,846 new tests per day. The rate of tests with positive results for the past seven days was at 9% on Tuesday, up slightly from Monday’s 8.9%.

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 has been above 5% since May 25, according to UDOH data.

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.