Gov. Herbert Addresses COVID-19 Numbers and State Audit
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Utah remains high. Thursday there were 1,008 new cases reported. The state’s rolling 7-day average is nearing 1,000 new cases per day.
During a COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Governor Gary Herbert said Utah continues to face challenges with the pandemic.
“Our pandemic numbers still are higher than they've ever been. Our seven day rolling average is causing us concern,” Herbert said. “These are not just numbers and statistics. These are people, these are people who are being infected and having their lives disrupted. And whether it's impacting themselves individually impacting their family, their friends, loved ones, their colleagues and coworkers.”
But he said while Utah’s numbers are still high, the state has seen some improvements.
“We have seen some significant reduction in our minority populations, our Hispanic and Latino populations, their infections, which were at the highest end of our populations and beginning have been cutting it down in half,” he said. “And so we appreciate the fact that their percentage of cases among Hispanic and Latino populations continues to fall.”
Herebert also notes the state’s mortality rate has stayed low throughout the pandemic. Hospital stays, he said, have shortened as well.
But the number of people in the ICU has started to spike in the last couple of weeks. In fact, COVID cases in the ICU have doubled. Herbert said capacity in the ICU isn’t the only thing the healthcare system has to worry about.
“They've got to have trained personnel there,” he said. “That's probably the biggest concern, I think, in the healthcare system right now is the personnel as opposed to the beds. So it works in conjunction.”
A state audit was released earlier this week. It offered criticism about the state’s preparedness for the pandemic, and said the state ignored recommendations to stockpile Personal Protective Equipment before the pandemic.
In April, Herbert announced that the state government was teaming up with Silicone Slopes to increase testing capacity. The audit also scrutinized state contracts with large tech companies. But Herbert said he thinks taxpayers got their money’s worth.
“We had a contract as it turned out did not work as well, because we didn't have people going in to get testing,” according to Herbert. “So we had the capacity to test four or 5000 people, we tried to get up to 6000, we eventually got there. But the contract we had in place was just for as many that came in, if we had four or 5000, it was going to cost us $44 a test. If we had fewer people come in, then it proportionally rolls up in cost per test.”
The state has administered over 1 million COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic.