SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has broken its COVID-19 single-day new cases record for the second day in a row, but health officials are cautioning against jumping to conclusions.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the state increased by 343 from Thursday — the highest daily increase since the pandemic began, according to the Utah Department of Health. One more death from the disease also was reported Friday.
The state's previous highest number of new cases in a single day came Thursday, when 215 new cases were announced. However, health officials say looking at trends of several weeks is more important than day-to-day changes.
"While 343 new cases is the largest single-day increase we have reported since the beginning of this outbreak, I would caution against jumping to conclusions on what this particular data point might mean," health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in a news release. "One day does not make a trend."
Dunn also added that state officials expected to see an uptick in cases as social distancing restrictions were loosened over the past several weeks.
Friday’s totals give Utah 9,264 total confirmed cases, with 753 total hospitalizations and 107 total deaths from the disease. Previously, there were 8,921 total cases in the state.
The new numbers indicate a 3.8% increase in positive cases since Thursday. Of the 205,855 tests conducted in Utah so far, 4.5% were positive for COVID-19. There were 2,348 tests conducted between Thursday and Friday.
The person who died was a woman from Salt Lake County, health officials reported Friday. She was over the age of 85 and was living in a long-term care facility before she died.
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 Friday, the health department estimates there are 3,344 active cases of COVID-19. Another 5,813 Utahns are estimated to have recovered from the disease because they were diagnosed with the disease three or more weeks ago and have not died, the health department reported.
Nineteen more people were hospitalized for the disease in Utah since Thursday, the health department said. A total of 101 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.
There is not a COVID-19 news conference scheduled for Friday. Utah officials have now transitioned to holding news conferences once a week on Wednesdays.
A lull in testing over the Memorial Day holiday last weekend may explain the dramatic uptick in daily new cases, Dunn said. Localized areas that are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, such as the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home, may also explain the increase, she said.
The week-to-week comparison is less dramatic, Dunn pointed out. This week, there have been 1,197 new COVID-19 cases, compared with 1,162 last week. That amounts to a 3% increase in new weekly cases, she said.
People should remember that it is still important to be cautious, even though businesses and other aspects of the economy continue reopening, Dunn said.
"It is important for members of the public to remember that low and moderate risk does not mean 'no risk,'" she said. "We all have a responsibility to be proactive and to do the things we know will help limit the spread of this virus: stay home if you're sick, practice good hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and when that's not possible, wear a mask."
The transmission rate for COVID-19 in Utah, which measures the likelihood that someone infected with the disease will pass it on to someone else, remains at 1.1, Dunn said.
Health officials want to see that number drop below 1.0, which will mean they are gaining control over the spread of the virus and driving it downward. Usage of hospital intensive care units for COVID-19 also remains well below the threshold where hospitals may become overwhelmed, Dunn added.
"We will continue to watch our daily case counts closely, with the goal of preventing widespread, community transmission," Dunn said.
More information can be found at the state's coronavirus website, coronavirus.utah.gov.