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12 Utah counties are rated at ‘high’ transmission level of COVID-19 — the most in four months

There are 668 new cases of coronavirus and two more deaths.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Diane Gilles takes a handful of syringes filled with the Moderna vaccine to be given to people on Thursday, March 18, 2021, as the Utah Film Studios loans its space to the Summit County Health Department as a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination station.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing free access to critical stories about the coronavirus. Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter, sent to your inbox every morning. To support journalism like this, please donate or become a subscriber.

A dozen Utah counties are now in the high level of transmission category — the most since early March. The levels are determined by the seven-day average percent positivity, the 14-day case rate per 100,000 population, and the utilization of intensive care units.

Box Elder, Carbon, Duchesne, Iron, Juab, Millard, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Uintah and Washington Counties are in the “high level” category. In 11 of the 12 counties — all but San Juan County — fewer than 60% of the adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Utah Department of Health.

The state was able to meet the goal of getting 70% of its residents at least one shot by the Fourth of July because of vaccinations in counties with the largest populations. The combined population of the 12 high-transmission counties (according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates) is about 530,000 — just under 17% of the state’s entire population, or 1 in 6 Utahns. That’s less than Utah County alone, and less than half of Salt Lake County alone.

“This is being driven largely by increasing ICU utilization throughout the state,” UDOH tweeted. “Too many people are ending up in the hospital, not just from COVID, but from injuries and other illnesses. Our hospitals, and our health care workers, need some relief.”

Cache, Davis, Emery, Grand, Morgan, Salt Lake, Summit, Utah, Wasatch and Weber counties are in the “moderate” transmission category. Beaver, Daggett, Garfield, Kane, Piute, Rich and Wayne counties are in the “low” transmission category.

The combined populations of the seven low-transmission counties is just over 27,000 — less than 1% of the state’s population.

On Thursday, UDOH reported two more COVID-19 deaths and 668 new cases — the second day in a row the number of new cases greatly exceeded 600. (There were 673 on Wednesday.) Those are the two highest counts in a single day since March 16, when there were 695.

Vaccine doses administered in past day/total doses administered • 5,606 / 2,895,700.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,423,411.

Cases reported in past day • 668.

Deaths reported in past day • Two, both in Salt Lake County — a man between the ages of 45 and 64, and a man 85-plus.

Tests reported in past day • 4,722 people were tested for the first time. A total of 8,350 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 230. That’s 30 fewer than on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 92 are in intensive care units, seven more than on Wednesday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 14.1%. That’s higher than the seven-day average of 11.9%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Thursday’s rate was 8%, the same as the seven-day average.

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

Totals to date • 418,321 cases; 2,389 deaths; 17,727 hospitalizations; 2,821,170 people tested.

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