COVID-19 infections are rising in Utah, as state reports 12 new deaths plus 17 newly counted ones

Officials say 17 of the newly confirmed coronavirus deaths occurred before Dec. 20.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Matt Mendoza, a scribe for a doctor's office, receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. The Weber-Morgan Health Department began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers in non-hospital settings at Weber State University's Dee Events Center, Jan. 5, 2020. The health department hopes to vaccinate 1,000 a day.

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New cases of the coronavirus appear to be on the rise again in Utah, with 4,597 new diagnoses reported on Thursday — the third-highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

And rather than a single-day aberration, Thursday followed two days with more than 3,000 new cases each — in total, the state’s second-highest three-day case increase so far. 

“Here we go,” wrote Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases specialist for Intermountain Healthcare, on Twitter. “Post-holiday surge.”

The Utah Department of Health also reported 29 COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday — with the caveat that 12 of those are deaths reported the past day, and 17 occurred before Dec. 20. According to a new release from UDOH, “there can be a delay in final determinations” of causes of death “because the Office of the Medical Examiner takes great care to ensure cases reported as COVID deaths are actually due to COVID.”

Vaccinations reported in past day/total vaccinations • 7,568 / 68,030.

Cases reported in past day • 4,597.

Deaths reported in past day • 12 of the 29 reported by UDOH.

The 29 deaths reported Thursday • There were 12 deaths in Salt Lake County (three men ages 45-64, five men and two women ages 65-84, and two women over 85); five deaths in Davis County (a man 45-64, a man and two women 65-84, and a woman over 85); four deaths in Weber County (a man 45-64, a man and a woman 65-84, and a man over 85); three deaths in Washington County (a man 45-64, and a man and a woman 65-84); and one death each in Cache County (a man 45-64); Iron County (a woman 25-44); Millard County (a man 65-84); Utah County (a man 65-84); an Wasatch County (a woman older than 85).

Hospitalizations reported in past day • 537. That’s up 12 from Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 187 are in intensive care units — five fewer than Wednesday.

Tests reported in past day • 15,554.

Percentage of positive tests • 29.56%. This is lower than the seven-day average of 32.71%.

Totals to date • 297,317 cases; 1,359 deaths; 11,578 hospitalizations; 1,790,189 tests.

Utah County showed the state’s biggest resurgence in transmission, with 1,293 new cases reported Thursday — the county’s second-largest increase of the pandemic.

Infection rates in central Utah remained the highest in the state, with Millard and Juab counties reporting 1 in every 47 and 1 in 58 residents tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks — which means their cases are considered “active.” 

But on the Wasatch Front, northern Orem in Utah County was rising faster than the towns of central Utah, with a highest number of cases per capita in the past week among Utah’s 99 “small areas,” used by state officials to study health trends.