Tuesday's totals give Utah 1,738 confirmed cases, with 148 hospitalizations and 13 total deaths from the disease throughout the state's outbreak. Previously, there were 1,675 cases and 13 reported deaths in the state.
The new numbers indicate a 3.8% increase in positive cases since Monday. Of the 34,647 people tested in Utah so far, 5% have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of hospitalizations increased by 7.2% from Monday.
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.
In total, about 8% of those who have been infected with COVID-19 in Utah have been hospitalized, according to health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.
Utah officials discussed the current coronavirus situation in the state at the daily Utah Department of Health press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Watch the replay of the event below
Despite ongoing calls from others in the state to institute a statewide stay-at-home order, Gov. Gary Herbert declined to enact one Tuesday, keeping the state under a "stay safe, stay home" directive.
“I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic, and we will let the data drive our policy," he said during the press conference.
Health officials are hoping to have more data available in the coming days, Herbert added. The data will help them determine more epidemic metrics, such as the transmission rate, which refers to the likelihood that one infected person will spread COVID-19 to multiple others.
Some models previously estimated that Utah could see as many as 900 deaths from the disease by the time it is expected to peak in late April or early May, according to Herbert. Those models now estimate closer to 180 deaths in Utah, though the modeling has been somewhat erratic, he said.
"I am really more concerned about what is actually happening in real time," he said. "We have 13 deaths, which is 13 too many."
The governor stressed that Utahns need to continue socially distancing and stay home whenever possible. The safest place for Utahns to be is at home, and people should find ways to socialize while they're at home, especially during holiday weekends like the Easter holiday coming up on Sunday.
Dunn added that though the state's rate of positive tests has remained constant at 5% over the past several weeks, officials want to see that turn into fewer new cases every day, as well.
"We need a drop in actual cases to happen," she said. "And in order to do that, we’re relying on you as individuals to adhere to the stay-at-home directive by Gov. Herbert so that we can see the low testing positive rate translate into a lower number of cases every day.”
Health officials don't have clear scientific evidence for why the state's positive test rate has remained comparatively lower than other states. But Dunn speculated that it may be due to Utah instituting social distancing measures, such as school closures and restaurant dine-in bans, early in the outbreak.
Herbert and Salt Lake Chamber President Derek Miller also discussed two loan programs available for small businesses in Utah.
The loans are being offered as part of the disaster relief assistance and paycheck protection programs through the federal Small Business Administration. Small businesses with less than 500 employees should be eligible for both programs and are encouraged to apply.
"This is really, really good news for our business community," Herbert said.
More information about the loans and the current COVID-19 situation in Utah is available at coronavirus.utah.gov.