Friday's totals give Utah 1,246 confirmed cases, with 106 hospitalizations and seven total deaths from the disease. Previously, there were 1,074 cases in the state.
The new numbers indicate a 16% increase in positive cases since Thursday. The total number of cases reported by the health department includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah's outbreak began, including those who are infected now, those who have recovered from the disease and those who have died.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday said state data are encouraging, but he hopes people will redouble their efforts to stop the virus spreading further.
"I know that people are hurting, and my heart goes out to those people who have this infection," he said in a press conference Friday afternoon.
Though facing mounting pressure from local officials, including Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, to enact a statewide stay-at-home order, Herbert declined to do so Friday.
He said health officials in the state are monitoring the situation every day and have determined that such an order is not yet needed. He said Utahns are voluntarily complying with his previous "stay home, stay safe" directive, which was announced last Friday.
Utah Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn added that the state's current directive does allow local jurisdictions to enact their own stronger orders. Salt Lake City and County, as well as Summit, Davis, Weber and Morgan counties, all have done so.
Herbert added that though those stronger orders are in place, they aren't that different from Utah's directive. Though some have given their orders the force of law, they aren't enforcing that power, he said.
Utah health officials discussed the current coronavirus situation in the state at the daily Utah Department of Health press conference on Friday afternoon. Watch the full replay of the press conference below.
Day-to-day results, though promising, are not the primary concern for health officials because there will be lots of fluctuation each day, according to Dunn. Rather, authorities are looking at two-week trends to assess the extent of Utah's epidemic, she said.
The last two weeks indicate a steady increase in cases, usually increasing by 10-15% per day, Dunn said. That is less severe than in other states, but still means that Utahns should continue social distancing measures, she added.
"We do need to keep adhering to social distancing recommendations to ensure that our growth rate starts declining and we can be sure that we keep our healthcare capacity in check so that people can get the care they need when they need it," Dunn said.
Salt Lake County still has the most cases of the disease, with 541 as of Friday and 50 hospitalizations. Summit County has the second most, with 222 cases and 12 hospitalizations. Utah County has reported 150 cases and 11 hospitalizations, and Davis County has recorded 122 cases with 10 hospitalizations, according to health department data.
We do need to keep adhering to social distancing recommendations to ensure that our growth rate starts declining and we can be sure that we keep our healthcare capacity in check so that people can get the care they need when they need it.
–Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist
Among Utah health districts, Summit County has the highest per-capita rate of infection, with 5.27 cases per 1,000 people, according to Utah Department of Health data.
Wasatch County's per-capita rate is just over two cases per 1,000 people. The other three Utah health districts with the five highest per-capita infection rates are the southwest Utah health district, with .65 cases per 1,000 people; the Salt Lake County health district, with a rate of .47 cases; and the Weber-Morgan health district, with a rate of .42 cases.
Of the 24,248 people tested in Utah so far, 5.1% tested positive for COVID-19.
The number of reported tests increased by 3,183 since Thursday, according to data gathered by KSL.com. That represents the state's largest testing total to date. Officials have set a goal to be able to test 7,000 people per day for COVID-19, according to Herbert.
Previously, there had been a data reporting lag of 2-3 days for test results; however, as of Friday the state labs have caught up and are reporting more up-to-date data, Dunn said.
Retired Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, formerly of the Utah National Guard, who is currently handling day-to-day operations for the Utah Department of Health, said Utah authorities are currently trying to obtain more medical protective equipment for healthcare workers.
However, they believe they have sufficient amounts of those materials to respond to Utah's current crisis.
Burton added that there are about 1,000 ventilators in Utah currently. Some are being used for non-coronavirus needs, but about 72% of the ventilators are available for COVID-19 patients, he said.
Additionally Friday, Herbert announced that Zion National Park will be closed, effective immediately. State officials worked with local governments in Rockville, Springdale and St. George, as well as the U.S. Department of the Interior, to arrive at the decision.
Since many out-of-state visitors come to that park, leaders thought it best to temporarily close the park, Herbert said. Utah state parks will remain open for residents of the county in which the park is located, the governor added.
Contributing: Josh Furlong, KSL.com