Highly Contagious ‘UK Variant’ of COVID-19 Found in Utah, ICUs Over 95% Full

Jan 15, 2021

The Utah Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of the highly-contagious strain of COVID-19, frequently referred to as the ‘UK variant,’ Friday.


The Health Department says the case was discovered through ongoing genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples by the Utah Public Health Laboratory.


The case is a 25-44 year old man from Salt Lake County who tested positive for the virus last month. The man has no known travel outside of Utah and experienced only mild symptoms, according to the Health Department. 


The Salt Lake County Health Department conducted routine case investigation and contact tracing activities after the man first tested positive.


State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn says the Health Department anticipated eventually finding the strain in Utah and the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use are believed to be effective against this strain.


The Health Department also announced 2,543 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, after administering almost 13,00 tests.


Friday’s numbers bring the statewide rolling seven-day average for positive tests to 2,391 and the seven-day average for positive laboratory tests to 25%. Both measures have been steadily dropping after record highs for the percent of positive lab tests just after the new year.



Credit Utah Department of Health


Wasatch County reported 29 new cases on Friday to Summit County's 53. Summit County’s seven-day average for positive laboratory tests is currently at 26.4% and Wasatch is at 27.6%. Both are above the statewide average but have experienced slight declines over the last week.


The Health Department reports 584 people currently in the hospital for the disease statewide, with 95.4% of COVID-19 referral center ICU beds occupied.


The statewide death toll climbed to 1,472 after 12 more deaths were reported. Nine men and three women, none from either Summit or Wasatch County.


As of Friday, over 142,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered across the state.