Coronavirus in Utah: 1,393 new cases — the second-highest daily count of the pandemic

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Gary Herbert poses with Ambassadors for the "Stay Safe to Stay Open" campaign in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Department of Health will be asking businesses to adopt public health best practices to fight COVID.

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.

In Sunday’s coronavirus update, the Utah Department of Health reported 1,393 new cases statewide — the second-highest daily total of the pandemic, behind only Sept. 25′s report.

The new report also added 24 new hospitalizations, for a total of 175 current hospitalizations. And the state reported two new deaths Sunday. Both were Washington County residents between ages 65 and 84. One of the deaths was a woman at a long-term care facility there, the other a man who was hospitalized.

Along with the 1,393 new cases came word of 8,214 new people tested, a one-day positive ratio of 16.9%. The state says the rolling seven-day average for positive lab tests is 13.7%.

And of the nearly 1,400 cases announced Sunday, 652 came from Salt Lake County, according to the state’s numbers. That is a new daily record for Utah’s most populous county.

The total number of cases means that the state saw over 7,000 new people test positive for the coronavirus this week — 7,003, to be exact. That’s a new one-week record for the state. Twenty-five new deaths were announced this week, though a few of those actually occurred in past weeks and months as the state caught up on laggard reporting.

The new cases also mean that more than 20,000 people have coronavirus cases that are considered active by the state. Patients are considered recovered once they have survived three weeks since their diagnosis. Of the total 77,618 cases, 57,392 are recovered.

Another way to look at it: About 1 out of every 159 Utahns have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the past three weeks.

As of now, 72.6% of Utah’s intensive care unit beds are occupied, above the “caution” threshold established by the state task force. Of the 175 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 69 are in ICUs.

Those new cases are causing doctors to worry. As Dr. Kevin Shah, a cardiologist with University of Utah Health, said at a Tuesday online media session, it’s unclear “who is going to completely recover from this and who’s going to have a long-term cardiovascular problem.”

Those remarks were echoed by Dr. Clark Bishop, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Utah Valley Hospital, who spoke at Gov. Gary Herbert’s news conference Thursday. “COVID can be very, very cruel: Just when you think they’re getting better, just when you think they’re starting to improve ... their heart stops.”

While the current Utah spike began with huge numbers among those in the 15-24 age group, the reality of the coronavirus in the first few days of October now features the highest number of daily cases among the middle-aged and the elderly at any time in the pandemic.

Indeed, Sunday’s count featured 351 new cases among the 15-24 age group, 499 cases among the 25-44 age group, and 294 among the 45-64 age group. The latter two are new daily highs in those respective categories.

The numbers from Sunday’s release also included 63 new cases in Utah schools. This week, West Jordan and Mountain Ridge high schools moved to online-only learning for two weeks, beginning Oct. 1. A charter school, Providence Hall high, did the same. Lone Peak, Orem and American Fork high schools maintained a hybrid-only approach after high counts last week.