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With 694 new coronavirus cases reported Tuesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses continued to rise.
For the past week, the Utah Department of Health has averaged 1,012 new positive test results per day — continuing a streak of new record highs that began earlier this month as cases surged among young adults.
Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 457 on Tuesday, with four fatalities reported since Monday:
- A Salt Lake County woman, age 65 to 84.
- A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85.
- A Davis County woman, age 65 to 84.
- A Washington County woman, age 65 to 84.
The rate of new cases declined slightly in Utah County, which recorded 254 new cases Tuesday. But for the past week, the county still has averaged 66 new cases a day per 100,000 residents — the highest rate of any county in the state, and more than double the statewide average of 32.
Brigham Young University, which has experienced the worst campus outbreak since fall term began, reported 1,349 cases as of Sunday, up from 1,328 cases as of Saturday.
Hospitalizations rose Tuesday, with 183 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported. On average, 180 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week — continuing a two-week increase, but below the peak average of 211 patients hospitalized each day at the end of July.
Utah’s intensive care units were 60.8% occupied as of Tuesday, meeting the state’s goal of less than 85% occupancy.
In total, 3,807 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, up 50 from Monday. There have been 446 people reported hospitalized in the past two weeks — the highest 14-day total since late July.
For the past week, 13.7% of all tests have come back positive — a rate that indicates a large number of infected people are not being tested, state officials have said. Statewide, Utah’s rate of positive tests has been above 5% since May 25, according to UDOH data.
There were 4,403 new test results reported Tuesday, well below the weeklong average of 7,558 new tests per day.
Since Utah’s schools began opening in August, there have 2,096 cases among students, staff and volunteers as of Tuesday, up 141 from Monday — with 1,031 cases diagnosed in the past two weeks. At least 297 teachers have been infected this term, up 16 from Monday.
As of Tuesday, at least 16 schools in five districts had identified at least 16 cases in the past two weeks. Six of those schools have closed in accordance with state recommendations.
The Jordan School District and Salt Lake County on Tuesday reported that West Jordan and Bingham high schools were the fourth and fifth schools in the district to exceed 15 cases. Meanwhile, the Davis School District on Monday night reported its first school to surpass 15 active cases — but it did not identify the school or indicate whether it will be closed as state health officials have advised. All middle and high schools in the district are alternating between in-person and online classes until Nov. 2.
The state reported Tuesday that 54,844 of Utah’s 72,136 have “recovered,” meaning they have survived for three weeks after being diagnosed. But Utah doctors say they are starting to see more heart problems as COVID-19 case rates rise.
Doctors don’t know “who is going to completely recover from this and who’s going to have a long-term cardiovascular problem," Dr. Kevin Shah, a cardiologist with University of Utah Health, said in an online media briefing Tuesday.
A link between viral infections and heart problems isn’t new, Shah said, but “we’ve obviously never seen it to scale like this with a highly contagious virus.”
With the current uptick in COVID-19 cases in Utah, “we anticipate, unfortunately, that we’ll probably see more of the cardiovascular consequences, as well,” Shah said. Those include heart injuries, heart attacks, strokes, arrhythmias and blood clots to the lungs.
Doctors in China and Italy, where the first major COVID-19 outbreaks occurred, saw increasing cases of cardiovascular problems, and “we’ve seen a lot of similar findings” in the United States, Shah said.
Such cardiovascular issues, he said, are more likely in people already at high risk serious illness from COVID-19: those who are elderly, obese or have chronic medical conditions.
And now doctors are worried about a related problem: Even when patients develop heart problems that are not related to the virus, they are reluctant to visit their doctors for fear of contracting COVID-19.
“Many patients are ignoring symptoms, due to some concern with coming in contact with the health care system,” Shah said.
“Do not ignore symptoms,” Shah advised people with cardiovascular problems. “Continue to have your routine medical care, virtually if necessary. … For a lot of these conditions, time matters.”
Tribune reporter Sean P. Means contributed to this article.