Utah reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases, highest 7-day average since January

The Health Department on Thursday also confirmed seven more COVID-19 deaths,

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Health workers with the Utah Department of Health test the public for COVID-19 at a testing site in the parking lot of the Utah Public Health Laboratory building in Taylorsville, Dec. 30, 2021.

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For the second day in a row, the Utah Department of Health reported a number of new coronavirus cases not seen in the state for nearly a year.

Thursday’s reported tally was 3,563 — 260 more new cases than reported in the state on Wednesday and the most reported since Jan. 7.

The rolling seven-day average of new coronavirus cases also now stands at 1,898 — the highest such average reported since Jan. 19.

As case counts spike in Utah this week amid the omicron variant’s spread, a leading Utah doctor on Thursday urged people to keep New Year’s Eve celebrations small this year.

“This is not a great time to be gathering in large groups for New Year’s Eve,” Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare, advised.

The Health Department on Thursday also confirmed seven more COVID-19 deaths, the same amount reported Wednesday. In a news release, UDOH noted that one of the seven deaths reported Wednesday has since been removed from the list after further testing. The state’s revised death toll since the pandemic began is now 3,787.

With two days left in the year, 2,504 people have died of COVID-19 in Utah so far in 2021. (The Health Department does not update COVID-19 numbers on holidays or weekends. Its next report will come Monday.)

The number of children getting vaccinated continues to climb: 95,130 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose since they became eligible. That’s 26.1% of kids that age in Utah, according to the Health Department. And 62,510 of those kids have been fully vaccinated — 17.1% of that age group.

Intensive care units in the state remain near capacity. UDOH reported Thursday that 94% of all ICU beds in Utah and 96.4% of ICU beds in larger medical centers throughout the state are occupied. (Hospitals consider any figure over 85% to be functionally full.) Of all ICU patients, 35.7% are being treated for COVID-19.

Vaccine doses administered in the past day/total doses administered • 14,378 / 4,526,915.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,899,752 — 58.1% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 2,739 in the past day.

Vaccination status • Health officials do not immediately have or release the vaccination status of individuals who test positive, who are hospitalized, or who die. They do calculate the overall risk ratios of these outcomes depending on vaccination status, which you can see below.

Cases reported in the past day • 3,563.

Cases among school-age children • Kids in grades K-12 accounted for 360 of the new cases announced Wednesday — 10.1% of the total. There were 127 cases reported in children aged 5-10; 87 cases in children 11-13; and 146 cases in children 14-18.

Tests reported in the past day • 15,419 people were tested for the first time. A total of 28,777 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past day • Seven.

There were two deaths reported in Salt Lake County — a man and a woman between the ages of 45-64.

Five other counties each reported a single death — an Iron County man 65-84; a Sanpete County woman 25-44; a Utah County man 65-84; a Washington County man 65-84; and a Weber County woman 65-84.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 436. That is six fewer than reported on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 175 are in intensive care — three fewer than were reported on Wednesday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 23.1% in the past day. That is higher than the seven-day average of 12.4%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Thursday’s rate was 12.4%, higher than the seven-day average of 8.4%.

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

Risk ratios • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahns were 18.1 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 9.6 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 3.3 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 636,992 cases; 3,787 deaths; 27,512 hospitalizations; 4,245,929 people tested.