Utah COVID-19 cases and deaths see summer spike

Eight deaths are reported Sunday, and one more fully vaccinated person dies.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Christopher Whitehead, 13, of West Jordan gets a band-aid after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by EMT Sean Murphy, as 12-15 year olds get their vaccinations against COVID-19 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

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Eight deaths caused by COVID-19 were reported Sunday by the Utah Department of Health, the same day the state reported one more person who had been fully vaccinated died.

Of the eight deaths, seven occurred prior to May 27, and none of the people was hospitalized. This, despite the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 rising to 215 on Sunday, a 14-person jump over Saturday and the highest number of hospitalizations since early March.

UDOH also reported a “breakthrough case,” which is defined as “someone who has a positive test [more than] 14 days after they have completed the full series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.” Four fully vaccinated Utahns have now died of COVID-19; the state did not specify the date of the breakthrough case deaths.

The UDOH relies on state vaccination records and self-reporting to determine people’s vaccine status. It acknowledges that self-reporting could skew its reporting on breakthrough cases, causing them to be overrepresented.

The risk of contracting the virus is still considerably lower for vaccinated people, however. Over the past week, 2,022 people tested positive for the coronavirus. Roughly 10% of those (226) had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

The vaccine also offers a fair amount of protection against variants, such as the Delta variant. That variant, first identified in India, is estimated to be 30% to 100% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, and that’s been playing out in Utah. On Friday, the state reported 300 cases of the Delta variant. On Sunday, that number was 812.

The death toll for the week, according to the UDOH, is 33 people. That includes Friday’s report of 14 deaths. Ten of those died prior to May 25, but the four others were the most reported deaths in over a month.

Two of the deaths reported Sunday were men in the 25-44 age range. Another four were in the 45-64 age group.

The 282 cases tallied in the past day surpassed the 223 reported the Sunday following Memorial Day, when numbers were expected to spike as a result of holiday gatherings.

Vaccine doses administered in past day/total doses administered • 5,759 / 2,843,946.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,395,195.

Cases reported in past day • 282.

Deaths reported in past day • 8.

Seven of those deaths occurred before May 27 but were only recently confirmed to be caused by COVID-19. Two of the people who died are men age 25-44, one from Salt Lake County and one from Weber County. Four others were in the 45-64 age range. Two of those are a man and a woman who were residents of Salt Lake County, and the other two are women who lived in Cache County and Weber County, respectively. Also among the deaths were two men age 65-84, one from Summit County and one from Davis County.

None of the people who died were hospitalized at the time of death.

Tests reported in past day • 2,574 people were tested for the first time. A total of 3,673 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 215. That’s 14 more than on Saturday. Of those currently hospitalized, 68 are in intensive care units, six more than on Saturday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 11%. That’s higher than the seven-day average of 9.4%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Sunday’s rate was 7.68%, higher than the seven-day average of 6.2%.

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

Totals to date • 413,950 cases; 2,363 deaths; 17,436 hospitalizations; 2,784,871 people tested.

Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the date of the latest breakthrough case death.