Utah reports 17 deaths from COVID-19, a single-day record

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune). Shoppers wear masks as they shop in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020.

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In Utah’s battle against the coronavirus, some terrible records were broken Friday.

The Utah Department of Health added 17 Utahns to the state’s death toll. UDOH reported 2,987 new COVID-19 cases and 395 people currently in hospitals, and the seven-day average number of new cases crossed over the 2,000 mark — all single-day records.

Gov. Gary Herbert, in a statement Friday, said the records set in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations “are exactly what we’ve been warning Utah residents for weeks. That’s why we’ve implored Utahns to adopt the behaviors that could have prevented us from reaching this point.”

The new fatalities bring Utah’s overall deaths to 649.

Five of the 17 new fatalities were Salt Lake County residents. Three were women; one between the ages of 45 and 64, the other two between 65 and 84. One man was between 25 and 44; the other between 65 and 84.

Five were from Utah County: four men, all between 65 and 84, and one woman, older than 85.

Davis and Washington counties each lost one man and one woman; all four were between 65 and 84.

Also among the dead: a Tooele County man, between 45 and 64; a Juab County woman older than 85; and a Weber County man older than 85.

COVID-19, Herbert said in his statement, “is spreading rampantly and uncontrolled in our communities. Getting ahead of this trend will become more and more difficult with every passing day.”

Herbert announced no new government action Friday, but he vowed to announce policies “in the coming days” that will “address this ongoing surge.”

There have been 983 Utahns reported hospitalized for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. In total, 5,922 patients have been hospitalized statewide for COVID-19, up 92 from Thursday.

Utah’s intensive care units were 75.6% occupied as of Friday, but the figure reflects statewide ICU capacity and does not account for different needs from city to city, or for certain medical specialties.

Among the new cases, 281 were among school students, teachers and staff, another daily record. The state’s largest teachers union, the Utah Education Association, sent a letter to Herbert on Friday, demanding he suspend in-person classes at the middle and high school levels where transmission levels for COVID-19 are high.

Salt Lake County, Utah’s most populous, set a one-day record of new cases, with 1,183. Also setting daily records were: the Weber-Morgan Health District, with 254; Southwest Utah Health District (which covers Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington counties), at 200; the Central Utah Health District (which encompasses Juan, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties), with 64; Summit County, with 46; and Wasatch County, with 33.

For the past week, 19.7% 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. There were 11,220 new test results reported on Friday.

Another impact of the pandemic: The University of Utah football team canceled Saturday’s long-delayed season opener against Arizona, because of “a number of positive COVID-19 cases among student-athletes within the football program.”

The university did not specify how many players had contracted the virus. Enough were put into quarantine that the team doesn’t have the Pac-12 Conference’s required minimum number of players, 53, to compete. The game will go into the record books as a no-contest.

Also on Friday, the state’s COVID-19 Unified Command group announced it is looking toward using Apple/Google’s Exposure Notification Express, or EN Express, tool to notify Utahns via mobile devices of potential exposures to the coronavirus.

With the move, the state is canceling its August request for proposals from vendors to integrate Bluetooth technology with the Healthy Together app. The app was pitched back in April as a high-tech way to track people who have contracted the coronavirus, but the tracing technology never materialized, even with $2.75 million of the state’s money behind it.

The Healthy Together app is still available, according to a UDOH statement, to help Utahns complete symptom assessments, connect to testing centers, and receive current information about COVID-19.