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Utah again breaks record for daily COVID-19 cases, reporting nearly 9,000

The state also reported 13 more COVID-19 deaths, including a child.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cars wait in line for COVID-19 testing in Herriman, Monday, Jan. 03, 2022.

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The Utah Department of Health reported 8,913 new coronavirus cases Thursday, marking the second day in a row that the state reported a record-high number of new cases in a single day.

Thursday’s tally amounted to 1,666 more cases than reported on Wednesday and 4,207 more than the state’s previous single-day record (4,706 cases), which Utah hit on Dec. 30. 2020.

The rolling seven-day average of new positive cases also hit its highest number ever for the second day in a row — 5,083. And case counts are expected to continue rising.

Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health, said Thursday that models from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest — conservatively — an estimate of about 12,600 cases each day by the end of the month.

“That’s a conservative estimate,” Hoffman reiterated, noting that the upper estimate is about 38,800 cases per day. ”We’re talking about explosive volumes of cases that overwhelm all of our systems.”

The record-high number of cases announced Thursday was reported as Utah hospital leaders warned that the state’s supply of monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications for COVID-19 is running out.

In a news conference, they also warned more bed shortages are imminent amid record coronavirus infections.

“Omicron is incredibly transmissible. Because of that ... coupled with reduced precautions as a community, ... that has resulted in a dramatic spike in the number of cases,” Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician for Intermountain Healthcare, said.

Amid the spike in cases, the Summit County Health Department instituted a mask mandate on Thursday for all public indoor facilities beginning Friday. The mandate will last through Feb. 21, according to a news release, and applies to all residents and visitors. As of Thursday, Summit County reported the state’s highest 14-day coronavirus case rate at 4,546 cases per 100,000 residents.

[Read more: Sundance Film Festival cancels in-person Utah screenings amid COVID-19 surge]

COVID-19 deaths, including a young girl

The state health department on Thursday also confirmed 13 more COVID-19 deaths, including a girl between the ages of 1 and 14 who died in Salt Lake County.

The girl was the fourth child to die of COVID-19 in Utah since the start of the pandemic. The death of a Salt Lake County boy between the ages of 1 and 14 was reported on March 9, 2021, followed by the death of a Salt Lake County girl between the ages of 15 and 17 reported on Sept. 2. The health department on Dec. 15 then reported that a Davis County boy between the ages of 1 and 14 had died of COVID-19.

One of the 13 deaths reported Thursday occurred before Dec. 6 and only recently was determined to have been caused by COVID-19, the health department advised. The remainder — 12 deaths — were reported in the last day.

As of Thursday, 94.6% of all ICU beds in Utah, and 96.4% of ICU beds in larger medical centers throughout the state, are occupied, the health department reported. (Hospitals consider any figure over 85% to be functionally full.) Of all ICU patients, 38.1% are being treated for COVID-19.

[Read more: Here’s what Utah’s epidemiologist predicts about COVID, omicron and ‘flurona’]

The number of children getting vaccinated continues to climb: 99,797 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose since they became eligible. That is 27.4% of kids that age in Utah, according to the health department. And 67,901 of those kids have been fully vaccinated — 18.6% of that age group.

Updated vaccine guidance

The CDC late Wednesday recommended that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, the CDC had advised that children 16-17 may get a booster.

Earlier this week, the CDC also recommended that immunocompromised children between the ages of 5 and 11 receive a third primary dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 28 days after their second shot.

People of all ages who received a second Pfizer dose can also now receive a Pfizer booster within five months, instead of six, the CDC announced Tuesday. The booster window for those who received the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccine hasn’t changed, remaining at two and six months, respectively.

Find where to get vaccinated at coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine-distribution.

Find where to get tested at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-covid-19-testing-locations.

Breakdown of updated figures

Vaccine doses administered in the past day/total doses administered • 12,984 / 4,602,066.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,911,331 — 58.4% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 2,481 in the past day.

Cases reported in the past day • 8,913.

Cases among school-age children • Kids in grades K-12 accounted for 1,247 of the new cases announced Thursday — 14% of the total. There were 401 cases reported in children aged 5-10; 271 cases in children 11-13; and 575 cases in children 14-18.

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

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 is listed below.

Tests reported in the past day • 22,345 people were tested for the first time. A total of 41,155 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past day • 13. (UDOH did not indicate in its breakdown which death occurred before Dec. 6.)

In addition to the girl between the ages of 1-14, Salt Lake County reported the death of a man 25-44, two men 45-64, and a man 65-84.

Utah County reported three deaths — a woman 45-65, a man 65-84, and a man 85 or older. There were also three deaths in Washington County — a woman 25-44, and a man and a woman 65-84.

A Davis County woman 65-84 and a Weber County man 65-84 also died.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 530. That is 35 more than reported on Wednesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 188 are in intensive care — seven more than were reported on Wednesday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 40% in the past day. That is higher than the seven-day average of 24.2%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Thursday’s rate was 21.7%, higher than the seven-day average of 16.4%.

[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 17.1 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 8.9 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 2.2 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 672,567 cases; 3,868 deaths; 28,050 hospitalizations; 4,355,667 people tested.

— Tribune staff reporter Jordan Miller contributed to this report.

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