Utah reports another 27 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday

The state has reported 53 deaths in two days.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah Health begins administering the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as pharmacy resident Chanah Gallagher gets ready to give Christy Mulder, an RN in the MICU, her second dose on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

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As county health departments across the state struggle to register older Utahns to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the death toll continues to rise. Another 27 deaths were reported Wednesday by the Utah Department of Health, with some dating back to December.

The state is nearing 90% capacity of its intensive care beds — 482 of 537 beds are filled (89.8%). And 40.2% of ICU patients are hospitalized with COVID-19.

But the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests dropped to 23.62% after hovering around 30% last week.

Vaccinations reported in past day/total vaccinations • 14,354 / 124,884.

Cases reported in past day • 2,899.

Deaths reported in past day • 27.

The deaths reported Wednesday • Nine of the deaths reported Wednesday occurred before Dec. 23 and are being reported now because, according to the Utah Department of Health, the Office of the Medical Examiner “conducts thorough investigations of all potential COVID-related deaths,” which “can take several weeks to complete.”

All but five of the deaths were people 65 and older.

There were nine deaths in Washington County, with the youngest a woman between 25 and 44. One man and one woman were 45 to 64, and two men and one woman were 65 to 84. Two men and one woman were over 85.

There were six deaths in Utah County. Two men were 45 to 64 and another two men were 65 to 84. One man and one woman were over 85.

Several counties reported two deaths: Salt Lake County, a man 45 to 64 and a woman 65 to 84; Tooele County, two women 65 to 84; Uintah County, a man and a woman 65 to 84; and Weber County, one man and one woman 65 to 84.

There was one death each in Carbon County (a man 65 to 84); Davis County (a man over 85); Iron County (a woman 65 to 84); and Juab County (a woman over 85).

Hospitalizations reported in past day • 566. That’s up six from Tuesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 194 are in intensive care units — seven more than on Tuesday.

Tests reported in past day • 12,272.

Percentage of positive tests • 23.62%. That’s lower than the seven-day average of 27.8%.

Totals to date • 314,817 cases; 1,449 deaths; 12,160 hospitalizations; 1,855,385 tests.

UDOH changed the way it reports positive cases on Wednesday, adding 2,289 backlogged cases to the state’s overall total of 314,817, in addition to the 2,899 new cases reported in the past day.

Some of those older cases were identified as early as June 2020, but had not been included in the department’s case counts because of incomplete or unverified address information for people who tested positive. Beginning Wednesday, UDOH will report all positive tests unless the person can be verified as not being a Utah resident.