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Number of new COVID-19 cases in Utah climbs even higher — to 1,211

That’s the most in a single day since Feb. 10.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Registered nurse Alison Semus gives Emily Garcia, 13, her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as people are vaccinated against COVID-19 at the former Provo High School at 1125 N. University Ave. on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

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The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Utah reported on Friday surpassed Thursday’s 5½-month high — 1,211 was the most since Feb. 10. In the past two days, the Utah Department of Health has reported more than 2,300 new cases of the coronavirus.

The rolling seven day average of new cases hit 755, the most since Feb. 23.

Vaccine doses administered in past day/total doses administered • 7,389 / 3,016,983.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,478,589.

Cases reported in past day • 1,211.

Deaths reported in past day • One — a Salt Lake County woman between the ages of 65-84.

Tests reported in past day • 7,589 people were tested for the first time. A total of 12,646 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 351. That’s two fewer than on Thursday. Of those currently hospitalized, 152 are in intensive care, four fewer than on Thursday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 16%. That’s higher than the seven-day average of 14.7%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Friday’s rate was 9.6%, lower than the seven-day average of 10.4%

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

Totals to date • 432,467 cases; 2,451 deaths; 18,567 hospitalizations; 2,917,728 people tested.

On Friday, three doctors from University of Utah Health spent an hour on Facebook Live working to debunk misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccines — and explaining how scientific expertise adjusts when a virus evolves.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline update this week, which recommended even vaccinated people wear face masks when indoors, has prompted criticism that experts are sending mixed messages about COVID-19. Part of that problem, said Dr. Jeanmarie Mayer, hospital epidemiologist for U. of U. Health’s hospitals and clinics, “is that the virus is changing.”

Mayer noted that “the delta variant is a much more contagious strain of the virus” — and the CDC was reacting to new data that shows even people who are vaccinated can spread it to others. The CDC, she said, “changed the recommendation based on that changing science.”

Mayer urged people who have already suffered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated. “Vaccination provides longer protection and broader protection” than natural infection, she said — and is more likely to fend off variants of the virus.

The vaccines, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at University of Utah Health, have been tested thoroughly — with 344 million doses given out across the United States since December.

“It’s no longer new,” Pavia said. “It’s not something we don’t have a lot of data on or don’t have a lot of experience on.”

Pavia added that full approval of the vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — the vaccines are now available on an “emergency use authorization” — will come eventually, and is largely a matter of clearing legal and bureaucratic hurdles.

“From a safety and efficacy point of view, they could have done that months ago,” Pavia said. “We should really stop talking about full licensure as if it’s a magic point at which we know the vaccine is safe.”

Dr. Torri Metz, vice chair of research for obstetrics and gynecology at University of Utah Hospital and a maternal and fetal medicine specialist, reassured Facebook Live viewers that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant, nursing or concerned about their fertility.

“What we’re seeing is vaccination really is safe in pregnancy, and is as effective in pregnancy as it is in non-pregnant individuals,” Metz said. “When [women are] pregnant and get infections, they tend to get sicker than people who are not pregnant. That happens with flu, and we are definitely also seeing that happen with COVID. … We really want pregnant women to get vaccinated.”

Pregnant people who get the vaccine produce antibodies to fight off COVID-19, and “those antibodies also cross the placenta and go to benefit the baby, so that when the baby’s born — before the baby would be able to get any kind of vaccinations — the mom’s antibodies can protect that baby in that really vulnerable neonatal period.”

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