The Utah Department of Health released shocking COVID-19 numbers on Thursday, with nearly 4,000 new cases reported statewide. The state’s other numbers are not much better.
It was a sobering day in Utah for COVID-19 numbers as the Utah Department of Health announced 3,919 new positive cases on Thursday -- a new record. The state’s previous highest single day case count was just under 3,000 on November 6th.
Summit County reported an additional 29 cases and Wasatch County set a new record high of 55 COVID-19 infections. Neither Summit or Wasatch County had reported more than 46 cases in a day since the pandemic began in March.
Summit County has actually been experiencing a plateau and slight decline in average cases over the past week, going from 61.29 to 57.69 cases per 100,000 people.
The Health Department reported 13,900 people were tested for the virus, which is several thousand more than the past several days and could explain some of the dramatic spike in cases. However, similar numbers of people were tested on several days last week and case counts were not nearly as high.
In a Thursday briefing, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said statewide health measures like a mask mandate and strict limitations on social gatherings put in place this week still need time before any turnaround in Utah’s positive case numbers can be seen. She said, for now, diligent mask wearing is the only way to slow the spread of the virus.
“We’re four days into the new state order and our hard reset,” Dunn said. “We do need to give these measures time to see an impact on our case counts, however, we know that COVID continues to spread throughout the state, throughout all of our communities and all of our age groups. It’s not one particular population that is experiencing the spread. And I will tell you that our only hope for slowing the spread of COVID and protecting our hospitals, is if each one of us is wearing masks way more than we’re doing it now. If you think you’re wearing a mask most of the time, even you need to wear it more.”
The most alarming announcement on Thursday was 468 current hospitalizations and the statewide ICU capacity for COVID-19 referral hospitals is now at 87.4%. The ICU utilization threshold is 85%.
Health officials consider 85% capacity to be full after staff and patient rotations and PPE requirements are factored in, according to Utah Hospital Association CEO Greg Bell. He said several ICUs in the state are actually reporting capacities at or near 100%. Statewide capacity for all ICUs is at 83% and Bell said hospitals will not be able to keep up if current trends continue.
“We have some capacity,” said Bell. “We’re still treating all comers, but if we keep admitting 90 to 100 patients a day, then we just can’t handle that, certainly in the ICU.”
Utah’s rolling 7-day average for positive tests is now 2,738 per day. The rolling 7-day average for positive laboratory tests is 23.2%.
Summit County’s average for positive tests is currently at 14.4% and Wasatch County sits at 19.5%.
The Health Department also reported nine new COVID-19 fatalities, all over the age of 45. To date, Summit County has only recorded one COVID-19 death, while Wasatch County has 10.
Governor Herbert’s new health orders announced this week include a statewide mask requirement in place indefinitely and all social gatherings between different households are restricted until November 23rd.
Editor's note: a previous version of this story had an incorrect number of deaths and average case counts. The story has been updated with correct numbers.