Utah reports more than 14,000 new coronavirus cases, likely a ‘dramatic undercount,’ expert says

“The amount of omicron in our communities is intense right now,” according to a Utah expert.

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

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Nearly two years after the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported in Utah, the state reported 4,659 new cases Thursday, almost breaking a record for the amount of cases reported in a single day.

A whopping 14,754 new cases were reported following the long New Year’s weekend, including Thursday’s tally. Another 3,799 new cases were recorded Friday, 3,267 were recorded Saturday and 3,123 were recorded Sunday. The new cases amounted to an average of 3,688.5 per day, according to the Utah Department of Health.

“The amount of omicron in our communities is intense right now,” Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said.

The state’s record for the highest single-day count was set about a year ago, when 4,706 new cases were reported on Dec. 30, 2020.

The rolling seven-day average of new coronavirus cases also now stands at 3,346 — the highest such average reported since Nov. 22, 2020.

As high as the numbers reported Monday seem, they likely represent “a dramatic undercount of positive tests,” Stenehjm said. When the previous high was recorded, at-home COVID tests were not available, he noted.

Now, you have to factor in all those individuals that tested positive with at-home antigen tests that never got reported to the state health department or any of our hospitals,” he said. “This is much, much higher than we think.”

[Read more: Will Utah see a surge of COVID-19 cases in schools?]

The Health Department on Thursday also confirmed 17 more COVID-19 deaths from Thursday to Sunday.

The number of children getting vaccinated continues to climb: 96,993 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose since they became eligible. That is 26.6% of kids that age in Utah, according to the Health Department. And 64,507 of those kids have been fully vaccinated — 17.7% of that age group.

Intensive care units in the state dropped below 90% capacity. UDOH reported Monday that 86.4% of all ICU beds in Utah and 89.3% 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, 39.8% are being treated for COVID-19.

Vaccine doses administered in the past four days/total doses administered • 23,327 / 4,564,620.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,903,895 — 58.2% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 4,143 in the past four days.

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 four days • 14,754.

Cases among school-age children • Kids in grades K-12 accounted for 1,764 of the new cases announced Monday — 12% of the total. There were 640 cases reported in children aged 5-10; 387 cases in children 11-13; and 737 cases in children 14-18.

Tests reported in the past four days • 52,431 people were tested for the first time. A total of 97,490 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past four days • 17.

Four Weber County residents died — two men and two women between the ages of 65-84.

There were three deaths in Davis County — a man 45-64, and a man and a woman 65-84. And there were three deaths in Washington County — two men 45-64, and a man 85 or older.

Utah County reported two deaths — a man 65-84, and a man 85 or older.

Five counties each reported a single death — a woman 65-84 in Salt Lake County; a woman 45-64 in Box Elder County; a man 45-64 in Kane County; a man 45-64 in Juab County; and a man 65-84 in San Juan County.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 466. That is 30 more than reported on Thursday. Of those currently hospitalized, 179 are in intensive care — four more than were reported on Thursday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 28.1% in the past four days. That is higher than the seven-day average of 18.6%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Monday’s rate was 15.1%, higher than the seven-day average of 12.5%.

[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 17.5 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 2.9 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 651,746 cases; 3,804 deaths; 27,723 hospitalizations; 4,298,360 people tested.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)