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[UPDATE: Gov. Gary Herbert issued a statewide face mask mandate and other new coronavirus restrictions late Sunday. Read about it here.]
Utah’s worst week of this pandemic was capped off Sunday with 2,386 new cases and one more death, according to the latest report from the Utah Department of Health.
Over the past seven days, Utah has seen a total of 16,111 new cases and 46 people died of the virus. The state is also seeing a seven-day average percent of positive tests of 20.6% — the highest the state has seen through the pandemic and a sign that many more people have the virus than are getting tested. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has said a rate of 3% would mean the virus is being appropriately tracked and under control.
Those 16,000 new cases means that roughly one out of every 200 Utahns tested positive this week. Utah now has recorded a total of 132,621 infections during this pandemic and has topped 2,000 per day for the past five days.
Hospitalizations continue to rise at a crisis level. On Sunday, 424 Utahns were currently hospitalized, a record. A week ago, Utah stood at 342 hospitalizations. The state’s medical leaders worry the crush of patients will degrade the quality of care doctors and nurses can provide.
The trend in Utah is also being mirrored in many states.
On Sunday, the U.S. surpassed 10 million total COVID-19 cases. Over the past week, there has been a national average of 106,972 cases per day — an increase of 57% from the average two weeks earlier, according to epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding.
He also believes the country will hit 200,000 new cases per day by Thanksgiving.
In Utah, increasingly frustrated health experts say state officials are ignoring their advice for stopping the surge. Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician with Intermountain Healthcare, said the state should go into a two-week stay-at-home order, at minimum, to interrupt this transmission.
On Wednesday, four high schools said they would be moving to virtual learning due to infections among students and teachers.
Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Syracuse High School in Syracuse, Cyprus High School in Magna and Weber High School in Pleasant View all ceased classes in-person on Thursday. All four schools plan to return to in-person learning later this month.
According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, over the past two weeks there have been 1,814 school-associated cases reported. Of those, 1,406 cases have been among students.
The worsening outbreak is being felt all over the state with eight of Utah’s 13 health districts reported a daily record this week. That includes Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber counties, along with the Southwest district that includes St. George.