Spike in COVID-19 diagnoses continues, with 572 new Utah cases reported

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Kylie Archuleta and Joshua Brimhall conduct COVID-19 testing at the University of Utah Health's Farmington Health Center on Friday, July 31, 2020.

Utah health officials reported 572 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, for the worst two-day period of new infections in the state since late July.

The spike began on Friday when the number of new infections soared to 656 statewide, according to the Utah Department of Health, which indicated that the rise could be tied to reporting delays due to Monday’s Labor Day holiday and Tuesday’s windstorm in northern Utah.

As on Friday, Saturday’s high number of cases was led by a sharp increase among Utahns 15 to 24, who accounted for 245 cases. It was also driven by an increase in infections in Salt Lake and Utah counties — which both saw 205 new coronavirus diagnoses. Until Friday, Salt Lake County’s new case numbers hadn’t exceeded 200 since mid-August, while Utah County is seeing its largest two-day increase of the entire pandemic.

Utah County is currently experiencing the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the state, apparently driven by Brigham Young University in Provo, where scores of new cases have been reported in recent days.

For the past seven days, Utah has averaged 421 new positive test results per day, the Utah Department of Health reported. Gov. Gary Herbert had said he wanted the state to get below 400 new cases per day by Sept. 1, a benchmark that Utah met in mid-August but surpassed again last week.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 433 on Saturday, with two fatalities reported since Friday. One was a Davis County man, age 65-84, who lived in a long-term care facility, while the other was a Salt Lake County man, age 45-64, who had been hospitalized.

Hospitalizations dropped slightly compared to Friday, with 120 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported. Altogether, 3,311 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak began, 23 more than the day before.

There were 4,422 new test results reported on Saturday. The seven-day average positivity rate is 9.2%, according to officials. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn has said a 3% positivity rate would indicate the virus is under control, but statewide, Utah’s rate of positive tests has been above 5% since May 25, according to UDOH data.

Utah reported five more school outbreaks for a total of 50 since the pandemic began, and 25 new cases tied to those outbreaks, for a total of 226. There were no new school-related hospitalizations. Those still stand a nine and no one tied to a school outbreak has died.