Utah reports more than 39,000 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

The state’s overall coronavirus death toll is approaching 4,000.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gideon Crane, left, is tested for COVID-19 at a center run by Granite School District and the Salt Lake County Department of Health near Thomas Jefferson Junior High in Kearns, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

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The Utah Department of Health on Tuesday reported more than 39,000 new coronavirus cases in the state since Friday.

It marked the highest weekend tally ever reported. There were 13,551 new cases documented Friday — a new daily record — followed by 10,080 new cases on Saturday, 6,355 on Sunday and 9,934 on Monday, according to UDOH.

The daily tallies amount to 39,920; the health department in its Tuesday announcement listed the weekend case total as 39,882 — a difference of 38 cases. The agency noted Tuesday evening that 38 previously reported cases had since been removed from the state’s total, accounting for the apparent discrepancy.

Still, despite the more than 39,000 cases reported, the average daily case count over the weekend dropped to 9,980 — down from the previous four days, when Utah last week averaged 11,188 new cases per day, according to the Utah Department of Health.

That comes after state leaders including Gov. Spencer Cox on Friday advised most Utahns not to get tested for COVID-19, though state epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen noted older people and those with underlying conditions should still get tested.

Instead, state leaders advised younger, otherwise healthy people with apparent COVID-19 symptoms to assume they have the virus and isolate at home.

In their announcement, state leaders on Friday cited a state shortage of COVID-19 tests. Earlier last week, Dr. Angela Dunn, director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, also said the state had exceeded its testing capacity and was “turning people away from our testing sites.”

Dunn noted that the shortage could result in a drastic undercount of new COVID-19 cases.

Given that caveat, the rolling seven-day average of new cases still reached all-time high of 10,652. Before last week, the highest that figure had ever been was 3,392, reported in November 2020.

Kids in grades K-12 accounted for 8,490 of the new cases announced Tuesday — 21.3% of the total. There were 2,556 cases reported in children aged 5-10; 1,875 cases in children 11-13; and 4,059 cases in children 14-18.

Hospitalizations also continue to climb, with 681 Utahns concurrently hospitalized with the coronavirus — the highest number of any day throughout the pandemic. Before last week, the highest hospital count on a single day was 606 patients, in December 2020.

At that time, more patients required intensive care: 213, versus the 190 patients with COVID in Utah’s ICUs as of Tuesday. But hospital staffing is tighter now than it was in 2020, Utah’s hospital administrators have said.

ICUs in the state’s larger, “referral” hospitals are now at 91.6% capacity — above the 85% threshold that hospital administrators have said is necessary to leave room for unpredictable staffing levels, new patients and availability of specialized equipment and personnel.

Statewide, 87.5% of all ICU beds are filled.

The Health Department on Tuesday also reported 28 more COVID-19 deaths in the past day, bringing the state’s death toll since pandemic began to 3,979. Two of those deaths occurred before Dec. 18 and were only recently confirmed to have been caused by the coronavirus, the agency advised.

The number of children getting vaccinated continues to climb: 109,875 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose since they became eligible. That is 30.1% of kids that age in Utah, according to the health department. And 76,912 of those kids have been fully vaccinated — 21.1% 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.

Breakdown of updated figures

Vaccine doses administered in the past four days/total doses administered • 27,470 / 4,723,232.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,930,658 1,926,672 — 59% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 3,986 in the past four days.

Cases reported in the past four days • More than 39,000.

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 four days • 78,112 people were tested for the first time. A total of 151,176 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past four days • 28. (The Health Department did not specify which two deaths occurred before Dec. 18.)

There were 10 deaths in Salt Lake County — a man between the ages of 25-44; four men and a woman 45-64; two men and a woman 65-84; and a man 85 or older.

Washington County reported seven deaths — a man 45-64; three men and a woman 65-84; and a man and a woman 85 or older. And there were four deaths in Utah County — a man 45-64, and three men 65-84.

Two Davis County residents died — a man 45-64, and a woman 85 or older. Two Weber County residents also died two — a woman 45-65, and a woman 65-84.

Three counties each reported a single death — a man 85 or older in Cache County; a man 85 or older in Sevier County; and a woman 65-84 in Uintah County.

Utahns currently hospitalized with COVID-19 • 681. That is nine more than reported on Friday. Of those currently hospitalized, 190 are in intensive care — eight more than reported on Friday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 51.1% in the past four days. That is higher than the seven-day average of 41.3%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Tuesday’s rate was 26.4%, higher than the seven-day average of 25.6%.

[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 13.3 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as vaccinated people were, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 6.1 times as likely to be hospitalized, and 1.6 times as likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 4,723,232 cases; 3,979 deaths; 29,496 hospitalizations; 4,611,947 people tested.