Utah coronavirus cases up 1,081 on Tuesday

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Masks in use in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. The Salt Lake County Health Department says that face coverings are required indoors or outdoors where consistent social distancing is not possible.

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With 1,081 new coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses continued to rise to record-high levels.

For the past week, the state has averaged 1,251 new positive test results a day, the highest average since the pandemic began, the Utah Department of Health reported.

Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus rose to 551 on Tuesday, with five fatalities reported since Monday:

  • A San Juan County man, age 65 to 84.

  • A Utah County woman, older than 85.

  • A Salt Lake County man, older than 85.

  • A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85.

  • A Cache County man, age 45 to 64.

Hospitalizations held steady on Tuesday, with 291 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported. On average, 282 patients have been receiving treatment in Utah hospitals each day for the past week — the highest weeklong average so far.

There have been 695 Utahns reported hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past two weeks — a record high. In total, 4,753 patients have been hospitalized statewide for COVID-19, up 65 from Monday.

Utah’s intensive care units were 69.2% occupied as of Tuesday, but the figure reflects statewide ICU capacity and does not account for different needs from city to city, or for certain medical specialties.

Hospitals in Salt Lake City and St. George have opened overflow ICUs after filling their regular beds, and at least one family said long delays befell a patient requiring emergency pulmonary care at yet another hospital — delays that doctors there reportedly attributed to crowding from COVID-19.

Utah and Wasatch counties, as well as the Weber-Morgan and Bear River health districts, on Tuesday each reported their highest one-week numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake County on Tuesday posted a record-high number of new cases in one week. The highest concentrations of new cases are in Herriman, West Valley City, Kearns, Riverton and Bluffdale, with the virus also spreading quickly in the western neighborhoods of Salt Lake City.

For the past week, 14.8% of all tests have come back positive — up from Monday’s previous record high of 14.4%, and 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 5,765 new test results reported on Monday, well below the weeklong average of about 7,800 new tests per day.

School-related cases have not declined significantly this week, even with several districts taking fall breaks and some of the most infected schools switching to online-only classes.

Three high schools in the Jordan District and two in the Granite District have moved online until late October or early November. Tooele and Wasatch county districts each had one high school closed for two weeks ending Friday. Murray High School recently reopened after a two-week closure, and schools in Piute County were set to reopen Wednesday with alternating online and in-person classes.

On Tuesday, Davis School District announced Farmington High School would move to online classes for two weeks starting Wednesday. And Uintah High School in eastern Utah ended its football season early after a meeting where “players and coaches had prolonged, close contact” with a person who later tested positive.

“Masks were not worn during the meeting,” a district news release said.

Meanwhile, all high schools and middle schools in Utah County’s Alpine District had shifted to a “modified” schedule of alternating online and in-person classes, starting Tuesday and continuing until the December holidays.

Statewide, infections were confirmed for at least 118 teachers and 706 students in the past week, according to state data.