Utah’s coronavirus cases again top 1,000, with three deaths

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brenda Vijil, a Diné medical assistant at Utah Navajo Health System's Monument Valley Clinic, records an incoming patient's personal information waiting in their vehicle before admittance into the triage unit to take vitals and administer a coronavirus test, Aug., 24, 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 again had more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 Saturday, but infections didn’t quite beat yesterday’s record.

The Utah Department of Health reported the state had 1,077 new cases of people testing positive for the coronavirus, compared to 1,117 Friday. That marks the second day in a row cases have hovered over 1,000.

Three additional people died from the virus, including a female from Salt Lake County between the ages 45-64, a female from Utah County between the ages of 65-84 and a male from Washington County between the ages of 45-64. To date, 440 people in Utah died of COVID-19.

As of Saturday, 137 people are currently hospitalized due to the infection, an increase from the 131 reported the day before. Hospitalization rates have been ticking up since Tuesday. There are 49 people occupying ICU beds, three fewer than Friday. Nearly 71% of the state’s ICU beds are currently occupied.

The rolling seven-day average for positive cases is 796 and the rate of people testing positive is 12.7%. The state reports 8,213 people received COVID-19 tests since yesterday.

The state reported seven new outbreaks in K-12 schools and another 54 cases linked to schools, the most reported in a single day.

While outbreaks among high schoolers and college-aged adults caused a recent surge in cases, infections appear to be spreading to older populations. In the past day, 396 cases were reported in the 15-24 age group, 300 cases among the 25-44 age group and another 219 cases in those 45-64.

The data show spikes in infections for all ages over the last few days, except in infants and those 85 and older.

To date, more than one-third, or 36%, of all Utah cases have been in the 25-44 age group, followed by the 15-24 age group, which accounts for 26% of cases. The 45-64 age group has had 23% of cases. Children 14 years and younger as well as adults ages 65-84 each represent 7% of cases.

While cases have steadily increased in Utah County since the beginning of September, Salt Lake County has also seen a spike. As of Sept. 17, Salt Lake County Health Department reported 393 new positive cases, just shy of its July 9 peak of 409. It’s the third day in a row the county has seen more than 300 cases. Utah County reported 476 new cases as of Sept. 17. Many other health districts in the state have seen a rising rate of infection over the last few days, including the Weber-Morgan, Davis, Bear River and Southwest Utah health districts.

In response to the recent high case counts, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Saturday that he was renewing a state of emergency set to expire the same day.

Under the state of emergency, Herbert also issued executive orders that, among other things, allow Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control licensees to keep their licenses if they close for a period of time and suspends some requirements for using telehealth and rules that require parole hearings be open to in-person participation.