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Coronavirus in Utah: Record-breaking week culminates with 1,854 new cases, 10 more deaths

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurse Lee Cherie Booth performs a coronavirus test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

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A week ago, the president of the Utah Hospital Association predicted that facilities would soon have to begin rationing care owing to intensive care units being overwhelmed by record-breaking numbers of new COVID-19 patients.

And things somehow only got worse from there.

Utah’s worst week yet in the coronavirus pandemic culminated Sunday with 1,854 new daily cases and 10 more deaths, according to the latest figures released by the Utah Department of Health.

Over the past seven days, there have been 11,628 total new cases and 42 deaths. That death total represents, by far, Utah’s deadliest week during the pandemic.

There are 342 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — which shattered the old record of 318. The rolling seven-day average for positive tests is 1,644 per day, and the rolling average for percent of positive laboratory tests for the week is 18.7%.

The rolling positivity rate got worse each day of the week, and Sunday’s single-day rate of 26.4% was the worst the state has recorded during the pandemic.

There were 7,026 more tests conducted, bringing the total to 1,088,849.

The new deaths include one Davis County woman, between the ages of 65 and 84, and nine men:

• Five men from Salt Lake County: one between 45 and 64, two who were 65 to 84, and two older than 85.

• Three men between 65 and 84, from Box Elder, Carbon and Utah counties, and a second Utah County man, who was over 85.

While 15 of the week’s 42 deaths occurred in Salt Lake County, a death was recorded in 16 of Utah’s 29 counties — from Box Elder in the north to Washington in the south, and in such rural locales as Piute and Garfield.

That brings Utah’s death toll in the pandemic to 614 total. There have also been 116,510 total cases.

Tuesday saw coronavirus spikes prompt two Salt Lake County high schools to close their doors and switch to online-only instruction, while also establishing another record for the rate of new diagnoses.

On Thursday, with Utah reporting 1,837 new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations nearly reaching a new record high, Gov. Gary Herbert declared that “the time for talk is over — it’s time for action,” before adding that it would be up to local governments to decide whether to enforce the mask orders and gathering restrictions that are in effect in almost every county.

A day later, the state shattered its daily record for new cases, with 2,292 more COVID-19 diagnoses, prompting state officials to send a cellphone alert to residents warning about the disease’s rapid spread. Friday also saw health departments in six Utah counties (Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Tooele, Summit and Wasatch) set single-day records. It also marked the grim milestone of more than 600 total deaths statewide.

Herbert noted that as hospitalization rates and fatalities are lagging indicators, those new cases could translate to 115 hospitalizations and 11 deaths in the next week or two.

The numbers remained high Saturday, as the UDOH reported 1,724 new cases. The Utah State Prison went on a “code-red” lockdown Saturday after inmates tested positive in both the dormitory-style housing “Promontory” unit and the Oquirrh 5 unit, where the “most medically vulnerable” inmates live.

Sunday was the third day this week that saw Utah reach double-digit coronavirus-related deaths, with 10 apiece also on Wednesday and Thursday.

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