State reports 1,017 new COVID-19 cases, and hospital numbers continue to climb, but no new deaths

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shoppers wear masks as they shop at the weekly Liberty Park Market at Liberty Park on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.

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The number of new coronavirus infections was well above Gov. Gary Herbert’s target again on Saturday with 1,017 cases.

The Utah Department of Health announced no new deaths. There are 187 people — three more than Friday — currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Saturday was the first time the estimated number of unrecovered cases topped 15,000 in Utah. The figure stands at 15,293, meaning there’s enough Utahns currently or recently sick to fill the Huntsman Center. The state defines “recovered” as anyone who has survived three weeks after diagnosis.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Shoppers wear masks as they shop at the weekly Liberty Park Market at Liberty Park on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.

The number of new tests has remained above 9,000 for the third day. The percentage of positive tests is starting to decline slightly from a seven-day rolling average of 14.2% on Thursday to 13.8% Saturday.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has encouraged anyone with a symptom of the virus — including headaches, fevers, chills, coughing and loss of taste or smell — to be tested.

Utah reported a one-day record on Friday with 1,411 new cases. Even with Saturday’s decline, multiple health measures continued to fall short of the goals listed on the state’s “response scoreboard” tied to Herbert’s most recent “accountability” plan.

The goals include keeping weeklong averages to fewer than 400 new cases per day — a target Utah met for a few weeks starting in mid-August.

The spread is also taking a toll on Utahns daily lives. The state health department reported four new school outbreaks and 30 new cases. Since the school year began, there’s been 98 outbreaks in K-12 schools and 756 cases. Fourteen people have been hospitalized; none have died.

Multiple schools have suspended in-person learning in the last week. Some high schools have postponed games or have been holding them with few or no fans and canceled or modified homecoming festivities.

And while no new deaths were reported Saturday, some families continue to mourn. A paid obituary said Janet Peterson Willey was to be buried Saturday in Bountiful. She died of COVID-19 and other ailments on Tuesday at age 72, the obituary said. The Utah Department of Health has said 448 people in the state have died from the virus.

Saturday, Utah County again led the state in new infections with 453. Salt Lake County — with about twice the population of Utah County — followed with 380. An outbreak among college-aged people in Utah County has been blamed for much of the state’s recent spike. Utah County adopted a mask mandate on Tuesday.