Utah’s coronavirus percentage rate continues to climb slightly

The state health department reported 281 new cases and two more deaths on Sunday.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Individuals experiencing homelessness were able to get assistance from the homeless court, as well as COVID-19 vaccinations and other services, on Rio Grande Street, as part of a Salt Lake City Community Commitment Program Resource Fair on Rio Grande Street, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

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The percentage rate of coronavirus cases continues to see a slight uptick throughout the state, as reported by health officials on Sunday.

On Wednesday, the state saw a surge in COVID-19 cases, with 590 tallied — the most in a single day since April 6, when 611 were reported. A week ago, the seven-day average was 3.6%. For the past week, which ended Sunday, the seven-day average was 6.1%.

While only 281 new cases were reported on Sunday, the percentage rate is 6.86% — higher than the seven-day average.

More than a third of the state’s population (1,254,929 people) has received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19.

On Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent out its latest appeal: encouraging, but not requiring, missionaries around the world to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to “safeguard themselves and others.” The church had previously sent a similar message to its missionaries in Utah.

“Under the direction of their mission leaders,” a news release from the faith’s missionary department stated, “mission medical coordinators are monitoring the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in their mission and informing missionaries when they may receive it.”

At the education level, within the past week, three school districts — Kane County, San Juan and Iron County — and one Orem charter school have stopped requiring doctor’s notes for students seeking a mask exemption in their schools.

Instead, parents need only sign a form vouching that their children suffer from a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask. Supporters in the Davis, Weber and Alpine districts, among others, have called for the same approach, at rallies and in letters and calls to administrators.

The public health order governing masks in schools — which has had the same language regarding exemptions since March 2020 — says schools can, but don’t have to, require a medical directive to grant an exemption.

Still, Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley said, “The order does not allow for parents to grant face mask exemptions.”

Last week, epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn — who became the voice for science-based strategies for containing the coronavirus pandemic in Utah — announced she is leaving her statewide post to instead lead the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Her departure from state-level policymaking opens the question of how Utah will approach controlling the pandemic in its final months — even as infections drop but persist, variants complicate the picture, and vaccines are not yet available to, or wanted by, all residents.

Vaccine doses administered in past day/total doses administered • 7,518 / 2,039,298.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 870,592.

Cases reported in past day • 281.

Deaths reported in past day • 2.

The people who died due to COVID-19 were a Box Elder County man and a Salt Lake County woman, both between the ages of 65 and 84.

Tests reported in past day • 4,096 people were tested for the first time. A total of 6,899 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in past day • 157. That’s up five from Saturday. Of those currently hospitalized, 61 are in intensive care units.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 6.86%. That’s higher than the seven-day average of 6.1%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Sunday’s rate was 4.07%, higher than the seven-day average of 3%.

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Totals to date • 395,431 cases; 2,182 deaths; 16,061 hospitalizations; 2,530,491 people tested.