Utah reports more than 9,400 new coronavirus cases, highest daily count to date

The Utah Department of Health on Friday also announced changes to state COVID-19 testing sites.

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The Utah Department of Health on Friday reported 9,469 new coronavirus cases — a record number for the third day in a row.

The sky-high tally was announced midday Friday, around the same time Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Angela Dunn issued a countywide mask mandate.

The public health order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and requires everyone in the county, regardless of vaccination status, to wear well-fitting masks indoors. It also applies to those lining up outdoors.

The health department on Friday also announced changes to state COVID-19 testing sites in an effort to accommodate “surging demand” and minimize wait times, which have stretched into hours at some locations.

Friday’s case count was up from 8,913 new cases reported Thursday and 7,247 reported on Wednesday. Before this week, the highest number of new cases reported in a single day was 4,207, announced more than a year ago, on Dec. 30. 2020.

The rolling seven-day average of new positive cases also hit its highest number ever for the third day in a row — 5,766. Before this week, the highest that figure had ever been was 3,392, on Nov. 22, 2020.

The health department on Friday reported 19 more COVID-19 deaths. Five deaths occurred before Dec. 7 and only recently were determined to have been caused by COVID-19, the health department advised. The remainder — 14 deaths — were reported in the last day.

As of Friday, 93.1% of all ICU beds in Utah, and 94.8% 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, 39.4% are being treated for COVID-19.

The number of children getting vaccinated continues to climb: 101,047 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose since they became eligible. That is 27.7% of kids that age in Utah, according to the health department. And 69,032 of those kids have been fully vaccinated — 18.9% of that age group.

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.

State testing site changes

As of Saturday, appointments will be required at the following state COVID-19 testing sites: the Cannon Health Building (including traveler testing) in Salt Lake City, Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem, the Bountiful testing site, and the West Jordan testing site.

Those sites have routinely experienced high demand and long wait times, the health department said.

You can schedule appointments online at testutah.com.

Starting Saturday, you also must arrive at state testing sites at least an hour before they close. Those who arrive after lines have been cut off may be offered at-home test kits, as supplies last. Otherwise, you will be asked to return the following day.

The one-hour cutoff does not apply to people who have appointments scheduled within a testing site’s final hour of operation, the health department advised.

The health department on Friday also announced that, starting Saturday, the state will no longer provide tests to people who need them to report to work or attend events.

Instead, people who need tests for work or events should go to testutah.com and search for a non-state sponsored testing site, or work with employers and event organizers to find other testing options, the health department advised.

The health department warned that anyone seeking a test should still be prepared to wait between 30 minutes and four hours at various sites. “We ask you to be patient and respectful of one another and our staff,” UDOH advised.

Danielle Rehmann, a Salt Lake City resident, said she was the fifth person in line for a PCR test at UDOH headquarters early Friday, but it took more than an hour for her to get tested. When she reached the front of the line, she said only two people were administering tests at that time.

“The guy — you could tell he was really stressed,” she said of the person who administered her test. The worker told her the site was shorthanded because some employees had tested positive for COVID-19, she said.

When Rehmann left, she said the testing line “filled the whole parking lot and wrapped around the street.”

“I felt horrible for them,” she said of the pair administering tests.

At sites with more than an hourlong wait, at-home tests will be offered to those waiting in line, if available, the health department said.

Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms who chooses not to get tested should isolate at home and stay away from others for at least five days from the onset of those symptoms, officials said. If symptoms persist, you should isolate until you no longer have symptoms.

Breakdown of updated figures

Vaccine doses administered in the past day/total doses administered • 15,438 / 4,617,504.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,913,864 — 58.5% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 2,533 in the past day.

Cases reported in the past day • 9,469.

Cases among school-age children • Kids in grades K-12 accounted for 1,372 of the new cases announced Friday — 14.5% of the total. There were 415 cases reported in children aged 5-10; 293 cases in children 11-13; and 664 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 • 21,523 people were tested for the first time. A total of 40,904 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past day • 19. (UDOH did not indicate in its breakdown which deaths occurred before Dec. 7.)

There were eight deaths in Salt Lake County — three men between the ages of 45-64, four men 65-84, and a woman 85 or older.

Weber County reported three deaths — a woman 25-44, a man 45-64, and a man 65-84.

Two Tooele County residents died — a woman 45-64, and a man 65-84. And Utah County also reported two deaths — a man and a woman 65-84.

Four counties each reported a single death — a man 25-44 in Carbon County; a man 65-84 in Davis County; a woman 85 or older in Millard County; and a man 45-64 in Washington County.

Hospitalizations reported in the past day • 538. That is eight more than reported on Thursday. Of those currently hospitalized, 191 are in intensive care — three more than were reported on Thursday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 44% in the past day. That is higher than the seven-day average of 24.8%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Friday’s rate was 24.1%, higher than the seven-day average of 16.8%.

[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 17.3 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 8.3 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 2.6 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 682,036 cases; 3,887 deaths; 28,163 hospitalizations; 4,377,190 people tested.