Hospitalizations in Utah hit a new record Saturday with an additional 2,043 cases and 14 deaths
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Signs in the window of Alibi Bar & Place in Salt Lake City informing customers of COVID-19 precautions, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.
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The number of virus deaths in Utah remained in the double digits again Saturday — and medical staff are wary of more to come as the number of people hospitalized with the disease set a new record, too.
The Utah Department of Health reported an additional 14 people have died from the virus, including three younger people between the ages of 25 and 44. That comes after a daily record of 26 deaths on Wednesday and another 15 on Friday.
In the past week, 76 Utahns have died from the disease — one of the deadliest seven day stretches here since the pandemic began and coming at the conclusion of the deadliest 30-day period.
There have now been a total of 863 deaths in the state with these additions Saturday:
A Salt Lake County man, age 25 to 44.
Three Salt Lake County men, all between 65 to 84.
Three Salt Lake County women, all older than 85.
A Weber County woman, age 25 to 44.
A Washington County man, age 25 to 44.
A Washington County man, between 65 to 84.
A Washington County man, older than 85.
A Weber County woman, between 45 and 64.
A Davis County man, between 65 to 84.
A Utah County man, between 65 and 84.
Additionally, Saturday brought a daily high of 573 people in the state’s hospitals and intensive care units, beating out the previous ceiling of 570 set earlier this week. That puts the state right at the functional capacity for nurses and doctors available to care for patients, though there are still a few unused beds left.
Care has already been informally rationed as a result.
And if the number of people hospitalized continues to rise, staff will not be able to help everyone. Patients will be triaged based on who is most likely to survive. It’s likely that will happen as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Utah has not dropped below 400 since before Nov. 6.
Total, 8,029 people in the state have been in the hospital with the disease since the pandemic began. That’s roughly 1,000 more from just a week ago.
Of those hospitalized, 36% are older than 65. The age group has a 5% mortality rate from the disease compared to 0.4% in the Utah population overall. If you count those older than 85, it jumps to more than 13%.
That has staff extremely worried as numbers continue their steep, mountainous trend, and people gather for the holidays.
Dr. Angela Dunn
, the state epidemiologist, urged in a tweet earlier this week: “We can find ways to enjoy the holidays AND save our hospitals. It’s not just about YOU. It’s about US.”
“What we do this weekend will have lasting impacts for all of December,” added Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. He has previously cautioned about overwhelmed hospital staff.
The state, overall, reported 2,043 new cases Saturday. That’s lower than usual, in part, because of the holiday and limited testing. The numbers for the day show fewer people got tested, too, declining to 7,443.
Over the past few weeks, typically an average of 14,000 Utahns are getting tested a day.
Meanwhile, the rolling 7-day average for positive tests is 2,575 per day. And that puts the weekly positivity rate at 21.4%, which is a dip — but again, likely an artificial one.
The rate was 3,229 cases per day last Saturday with positivity at 23.7%.
The dip also coincides with the roughly the three-week mark of Gov. Gary Herbert putting in place a statewide mask mandate.
Experts say it’s helping, but several protesters drove to stores across Salt Lake County on Saturday, rallying against the order.
According to accounts on social media, groups barged in the doors of a Harmon’s and Walmart, shouting about freedom. For the most part, store staff responded with a polite, “Merry Christmas!”