Coronavirus in Utah: State’s deadliest week ends with 2,083 new cases, 17 more deaths reported

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cassidy Murphy tests for COVID-19 at Intermountain Healthcare Cottonwood InstaCare, on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.

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The deadliest week in Utah during the coronavirus pandemic culminated Sunday with 17 more deaths reported by the Utah Department of Health, as well as 2,083 new positive cases of COVID-19.

Utah has now totaled 1,055 deaths related to the coronavirus, and is up to 233,904 positive cases.

Over the past seven days, the state has seen 116 deaths caused by COVID-19 — easily the most in Utah of any weeklong stretch during the ongoing pandemic. (No previous seven-day period had even had 100 until this past Friday.)

The state hit the 500-death milestone back in October, but with infection rates surging of late, that total has now doubled in just two months, as Utah surpassed the 1,000 deaths mark on Thursday.

Indeed, Thursday was the third day in a row that the state reported more than 20 deaths. In recent weeks, COVID-19 and heart disease have traded places as the leading cause of death in Utah.

The one silver lining to the situation is the coming arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert announced that Utah would receive its first batch of vaccines sometime in December, with another batch coming in January. Health care workers are first in line to receive them, while teachers will come next, he said.

On Sunday afternoon, Intermountain Healthcare announced that four of its hospitals (Intermountain Medical Center in Murray; LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City; Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George; and Utah Valley Hospital in Provo) will receive their first shipments of vaccines arriving on either Monday or Tuesday. Intermountain officials are scheduled to provide an update on vaccine arrival, prioritization for vaccination, roll-out plans and safety updates on Monday at 10:30 a.m.

The University of Utah Hospital, not affiliated withIntermountain, will also be among the first group of Utah hospitals to receive the vaccine.

However, the state’s December and January shipments will total about 154,000 doses — far less than the 400,000 doses the state’s health department previously estimated would arrive by year’s end.

The rolling seven-day average for positive tests is 2,633 per day according to UDOH, and the rolling seven-day average for percent of positive laboratory tests is 24.6%.

There are 548 Utahns currently hospitalized with COVID-19. (Total hospitalizations from the beginning of the outbreak are now at 9,421.)

For the second straight day, the state established a new record for total ICU beds occupied: On Saturday, there were 514 beds occupied out of 536 available (95.9%); on Sunday, those numbers became 519 filled of 537 available (96.6%).

Confirmed COVID-19 patients account for 215 of people in ICUs.

In referral hospitals such as University of Utah Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center, which treat the most severe COVID-19 cases, ICU beds are over capacity, with 469 patients for 461 beds — 101.7%.

Because patients stay much longer in these ICUs than a medical ward, Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Medical Center, said, “that creates a situation where we are just filling the bucket and never draining the bucket.”

There have now been 1,575,222 people tested — an increase of 9,668 people tested from Saturday’s figures.

Sunday’s new deaths include:

  • Two Salt Lake County women, one between the ages of 65 and 84, and one older than 85.

  • Four Salt Lake County men, three between the ages of 45 and 64, and one older than 85.

  • Two Utah County women, both older than 85.

  • Two Utah County men, one between the ages 65 and 84, and one older than 85.

  • A Weber County woman, older than 85.

  • Two Weber County men, one between the ages 65 and 84, and one older than 85.

  • A Washington County woman, between the ages of 25 and 44.

  • A Washington County man, between the ages of 45 and 64.

  • An Iron County man, between the ages of 65 and 84.

  • A Morgan County man, between the ages of 65 and 84.