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Utah’s coronavirus hospitalizations broke records again on Tuesday, with 189 fatalities from the virus in the past month alone.
And with 3,178 new coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses also continued to rise. For the past week, the state averaged more than 3,000 new positive test results a day for the first time, the Utah Department of Health reported.
Announcing a new campaign urging Utahns to wear masks and follow other precautions during the holiday season, Intermountain Healthcare CEO Dr. Marc Harrison told the story of a nurse working at the newborn ICU in one of his hospitals who was infected with COVID-19.
She died across the hall from where she worked, taken care of by her overworked colleagues in the adult intensive care unit.
He noted she is one of more than 700 who have died from the virus from so far in the state.
“I’d like for you just to keep that very much in the front of your mind,” he said. “I’m not here to scare you, and I’m not here to lecture you. I’m here to implore you to be all in with us as we support what the governor has asked us to do.”
Utah’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 732 on Tuesday, with nine fatalities reported since Monday:
A Salt Lake County man older than 85.
Two Salt Lake County women, one age 65 to 84 and one over 85.
Two Utah County men, one age 65 to 84 and one older than 85.
A Weber County man, age 65 to 84.
A Juab County man, age 65 to 84.
A Beaver County woman older than 85.
A Washington County man, age 65 to 84.
Those deaths bring the number of Utahns who have died in the last week to 60. The state’s weekly average could shoot up to 92 deaths a week by mid-December, according to an average of dozens of medical forecasts and predictions compiled by the COVID-19 ForecastHub.
There were 512 Utahns concurrently hospitalized for the coronavirus as of Tuesday — a record high. Nearly 7,000 Utahns have been hospitalized for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 700 in the past week and 129 since Monday — a single-day record.
The new public service and social media campaign, called “All In," asks Utahns to respect the virus and others in their communities by staying home and restricting gatherings this holiday season, in addition to following public health guidelines like wearing a face covering and keeping 6 feet of distance from others when in public.
The campaign features Harrison, chairwoman Gail Miller from the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith and Deseret Management Corp. CEO Keith McMullin. McMullin said he learned a lesson early in the pandemic from one of his grandsons, who asked his mother, “Are we mad at Grandpa and Grandma?”
His mother said no and asked why. The boy said, “Because we haven’t seen them for so long.”
“There in that moment, I made a resolve,” McMullin said. “I may not be able to hug them. I may not be able to bounce them on my knee, but I can still find aways to associate [with] and still protect them, and they can find ways to love their grandma and grandpa without putting grandma and grandpa at risk.”
He urged Utahns to be innovative to get through this virus and to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of their families and communities.
Miller said that this year, she’s not having her family over for the holidays. Instead, she is celebrating with her household group and “creating memories” with the others on virtual calls.
“I know we’re all COVID-weary,” she said, “but it’s more important than ever for us to be diligent and mindful of all the things that we can do to stop the spread in Utah.”
She added that these are dramatic changes for some, but said they’re only temporary “if we do the right things.”
When asked how this campaign — with the now commonplace messages of, for example, the importance of masking wearing — will make an impact, Harrison said that responding to the virus has been “a learning process.”
Harrison said officials have determined that a lot of exposure stems from family and social gatherings — and that’s what this campaign focuses on.
For the past week, 24.4% of all Utah coronavirus tests have come back positive — which suggests many infected people have not been diagnosed and may be spreading the virus to others unwittingly.
The virus continued to spread most rapidly in Sevier, Utah, Garfield and Salt Lake counties, where more than one in every 75 people have tested positive in the past two weeks — which means they are considered to have active cases.
But the highest concentration of new cases remains in the northern neighborhoods of Orem, where one in every 75 people have tested positive in the past seven days alone.
There were 11,342 new test results reported on Tuesday, a bit below the weeklong average of about 12,000 new tests per day.