SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 110 from Sunday, with no new reported deaths, and the state has surpassed 100,000 tests conducted, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Monday’s totals give Utah 4,233 confirmed cases, with 349 hospitalizations and 41 total deaths from the disease. Previously, there were 4,123 cases in the state.
The new numbers indicate a 2.7% increase in positive cases since Sunday. Of the 100,195 people tested in Utah so far, 4.2% have tested positive for COVID-19, which is a 12-day continual decrease.
"These are very encouraging numbers," Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Monday.
Dunn discussed the current coronavirus situation in the state at the daily Utah Department of Health press conference on Monday afternoon. Watch the replay of the event below.
Case growth rate slowing down
State health officials still want to see a two-week trend in cases plateauing, followed by a decrease in cases, Dunn said. There has been a slight increase in cases over the past week, but data reporting delays could be a factor in that increase, so officials want to see a longer trend, she said.
The growth rate for new COVID-19 cases is slowing down in Utah, which is a good indicator that the state may be approaching a plateau, Dunn said. Local health departments are also advised to look for a plateau in cases followed by a decrease, she added.
The number of people tested between Sunday and Monday was 4,493, according to state data. Only about 200 of the tests administered in Utah so far are duplicates, Dunn said. Some people may have been tested again after experiencing symptoms again or becoming re-exposed to the disease, she said.
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.
As of Sunday, the health department estimated that 1,641 people in Utah have recovered from COVID-19. People who were diagnosed three or more weeks ago and have not died are considered recovered.
At this point in time, the state won't be releasing more detailed data on the people who have died from the disease, such as where they are from or what age range they fall into, Dunn said. Since such a relatively small number of people have died so far in Utah, the state risks identifying those people if more detailed data is released, she added.
The vast majority of those who have died in Utah are over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions, Dunn added.
Contact tracing and antibody testing
Health officials are also working to ramp up the state's contact tracing efforts, Dunn said.
The state has been tracking anyone who came in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 from two days before the person was confirmed to have the disease. Now, state workers will expand that period to seven days before a person was diagnosed, Dunn said.
"This will help us continue to control COVID-19 spread here in Utah," she said.
The expansion of the contact tracing period will take more state resources, but employees from other state departments have been brought in to help the health department with that task, Dunn said.
At least 30,000 people have downloaded Utah's Healthy Together app, which allows users to let the app track their movements to streamline contact tracing if they end up testing positive for COVID-19.
The health department has not yet had to make use of the Healthy Together app for contact tracing, Dunn said.
The state also hopes to expand antibody testing to help officials further understand the extent of the disease's spread, Dunn said. Antibody testing will reveal if a person was once infected with the disease.
Though no cases of COVID-19 were reported until March in Utah, it is possible the disease was present in the state before that, Dunn said.
Travel and economy
Despite evidence to suggest Utah is approaching a plateau in cases, the country is still in an acceleration period, Dunn said. Therefore, state leaders are advising people not to travel out of Utah at this time unless for essential purposes, she said.
Once the state begins to reopen businesses and some aspects of the economy again, state officials will ask people to continue practicing social distancing, Dunn said. That will help Utah avoid another surge in cases, though a surge is not expected in the state, she said.
Dunn said Utah's plan to reopen the economy includes some "triggers" that will alert health officials if things have been opened too soon and need to be shut down again to limit the spread of the disease.