New cases of COVID-19 tick up, but remain far below January’s record highs

As 10 more Utahns have died of the coronavirus, the state’s total death toll is now 4,336.

(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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The number of new COVID-19 cases almost doubled in the past two days, but they remained a fraction of the numbers being reported a month ago.

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,392 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 621 more than it reported on Tuesday and 732 more than it reported on Monday. However, the number of new cases has been under 2,000 per day for seven days in a row, and 10 of the last 11 days.

Positive tests have been trending down since a peak of more than 13,000 cases in mid-January, as the virus’s omicron variant spread in Utah.

The department also reported 10 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, including one person who died before Jan. 16. There have been 4,336 deaths from COVID-19 in Utah since the pandemic began, and 228 since the beginning of February.

The number of Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 also is trending down, following a spike in January. The overall number of coronavirus patients fell 31 to 498, and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units throughout the state remained unchanged at 117.

ICUs in the state’s larger “referral” hospitals were at 79.8% capacity, lower than 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. ICUs in those larger hospitals had surpassed 85% occupancy almost continuously since late August, but numbers dropped below that threshold Monday.

Overall, 75.8% of ICU beds across the state are filled, and 30% of intensive care patients are suffering from COVID-19.

According to state data, 60.7% of Utahns were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. However, researchers have found that a booster is crucial to prevent serious illness — and just 26.2% of all Utahns have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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 • 3,306 / 4,907,339.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,971,333 — 60.7% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 1,170 in the past day.

Cases reported in the past day • 1,392.

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 • A total of 13,014 people were tested.

Deaths reported Wednesday • 10.

Salt Lake County reported four deaths — a man between the ages of 45-64, and three men 65-84.

There were two deaths in Box Elder County — a man and a woman 65-84.

Four counties each reported one death — a woman 85-plus in Davis County, a man 85-plus in Utah County, a man 85-plus in Washington County, and a woman 65-84 in Weber County.

Utahns currently hospitalized with COVID-19 • 498. That is 31 fewer than reported on Tuesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 117 are in intensive care — unchanged from Tuesday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate was 26.4% in the past day. That is lower than the seven-day average of 28.0%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Wednesday’s rate was 10.7%, lower than the seven-day average of 16.6%.

[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 8.5 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as vaccinated people were, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 4.3 times as likely to be hospitalized, and 2.4 times as likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 916,191 cases; 4,336 deaths; 32,709 hospitalizations; 9,126,144 tests administered.