Another 314 COVID-19 cases in Utah; test numbers depressed by windstorms, health officials say

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) COVID-19 testing at the University of Utah Health's Farmington Health Center on Friday, July 31, 2020.

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With 314 new coronavirus cases reported on Wednesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses stayed above the governor’s target of fewer than 400 cases per day — despite fewer patients testing as a result of Tuesday’s windstorms in northern Utah.

For the past seven days, Utah has averaged 404 new positive test results per day, the Utah Department of Health reported on Wednesday. Gov. Gary Herbert had said he wanted the state to get below 400 new cases per day by Sept. 1, a goal Utah met in mid-August but surpassed again last week.

The virus continued to spread most quickly in Utah County, which recorded 147 new cases Wednesday — the most of any county in the state and nearly double Salt Lake County’s 77 new cases. For the past seven days, Utah County has averaged more than 24 new cases a day per 100,000 people, compared to 14 in Summit County and 12 in Salt Lake County.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 427 on Wednesday, with three fatalities reported since Tuesday:

  • A Salt Lake County man, age 65-84, who lived in a long-term care facility resident.

  • A Salt Lake County man, age 65-84, who died in a hospital.

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

Hospitalizations held steady on Wednesday, with 116 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported. On average, 119 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week, continuing a decline from the peak average of 211 patients hospitalized each day at the end of July.

In total, 3,263 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, up 21 from Tuesday.

The rate of tests with positive results was at 9.1% on Wednesday, down slightly from Tuesday’s 9.3%. 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.

There were 3,194 new test results reported on Wednesday, below the weeklong average of 4,302 new tests per day.

“Several testing locations in northern Utah were closed yesterday due to the wind storm,” UDOH spokesman Tom Hudachko wrote in a news statement Wednesday. “These closures may result in lower test numbers being reported for the next several days.”

Testing demand had been rising in the past week but remains far below mid-July, when the state was reporting more than 7,000 new test results per day, on average.

Since Utah’s classrooms began opening on Aug. 13, there have been 28 outbreaks in schools, affecting 141 patients. One of those new outbreaks was reported in the past day, with 14 new school-related cases, UDOH reported.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 186 patients infected in 39 school outbreaks, with a median age of 17. Nine of those patients have been hospitalized, one in the past day; none have died.

Of 55,673 Utahns who have tested positive for COVID-19, 47,084 are considered “recovered” — that is, they have survived for at least three weeks after being diagnosed.