Utah COVID-19 case counts have increased, but virus rates in wastewater are leveling, state reports

The state also reported 13 more deaths in its Thursday report.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) EMT, Charles Ledbetter, delivers a COVID-19 test to a patient in their car in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.

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Utah reported more than 3,220 new coronavirus cases in the past seven days and 13 more deaths, the Department of Health reported Thursday.

The number of new cases this week — 3,226 — was nearly double the 1,695 reported last Thursday. The state also saw a 46.5% increase in the seven-day average of new cases, moving from 258.7 to 379. That was after reporting a more than 51.4% increase in cases last week.

State officials have been focusing less on new cases to track COVID-19 spread, since fewer people are being tested. However, in the past week, the seven-day testing average increased significantly to about 2,696 tests. The average from April 21 to April 27 was 1,821. The weekly rate of positive tests also rose from 6.46%. to 9.73%.

Officials also are looking at wastewater analysis, hospitalizations and emergency room visits to identify outbreaks or concerning spread in their now-weekly state COVID-19 report.

COVID-19 wastewater levels

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s survey of 32 municipal wastewater treatment facilities — covering roughly 88% of the state’s population — showed that 6.3% of those sites reported elevated or increasing COVID-19 RNA levels. This is significantly lower than the 59.4% of sites that reported elevated or increasing virus levels last week.

The state reported Thursday that one such site saw elevated COVID-19 levels. Twelve sites were listed as under “watch,” meaning officials had detected enough of the virus to indicate “potential concern.” Last week, there were two sites with elevated levels and nine sites on watch.

The majority of wastewater sites in Utah — 59.4% — are reporting “low” levels of coronavirus, although the number has fallen from the 65.6% of sites that reported “low” levels last week.

There was just one site — the Price River Water Improvement District in Carbon County — where officials found “increasing” levels of coronavirus, 18 fewer than last week.

At 23 sites, virus levels had plateaued, and eight reported decreasing levels.

COVID-19 hospitalization rates

Data shows coronavirus patients made up 1.25% of emergency room visits in the past week, compared to 0.89% the week prior.

Since last week, 88 more Utahns have been hospitalized with coronavirus, marking 34,347 patients hospitalized throughout the pandemic. There are currently 71 COVID-19 patients in Utah hospitals, seven more than last week.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs increased by one to 11.

The state reported 13,540 more Utahns received a COVID-19 vaccine since April 28, the last time the state released data. Of those, 1,897 became fully vaccinated, meaning they have had two doses of an mRNA series vaccine, like Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine.

About 62% of Utahns are fully vaccinated and 28.3% have received a booster shot, the data shows.

Breakdown of updated figures

Vaccine doses administered in the past week/total doses administered • 13,540 / 5,111,427.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 2,014,612 — 62% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 1,897 in the past seven days.

Cases reported in the past week: 3,226.

Average cases per day reported in the past week • 379.

Tests reported from April 27 to May 4 • 18,875.

Deaths reported in the past week • 13.

Salt Lake County reported six deaths: a man age 25-44; a man age 45-64; a woman and two men ages 65-84; and a man 85 or older.

Two Weber County residents died — a woman age 65-84 and a man 85 or older.

The five other deaths include: a Davis County man 85 or older; an Iron County man age 45-64; a San Juan County man age 65-84; a Summit County woman 85 or older; and a Utah County man age 25-44.

Hospitalizations reported in the past week • 71. That is seven more than reported last week. Of those currently hospitalized, 11 are in intensive care, one more than reported last week.

Percentage of positive tests • Counting all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual, this week’s rate was 9.73%. That is higher than the previous seven-day average of 6.46%.

Totals to date • 935,479 cases; 4,760 deaths; 34,347 hospitalizations.