SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 867 from Thursday — the highest single-day total of the pandemic — with two new reported deaths, according to the Utah Department of Health.
The new numbers indicate a 3.1% increase in positive cases since Thursday. The seven-day average of new cases has now reached 620.6 per day, according to the health department. The average positive test rate per day during that time period is 10%, the health department reports.
The state now estimates there are 11,756 active cases of COVID-19. An estimated 16,261 cases are considered recovered, as those people were diagnosed with the disease three or more weeks ago and have not died.
Despite the record-breaking number Friday, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn remained optimistic.
"We all have the responsibility to do our individual part to help turn the tide of our ongoing spike in cases. Our hospitals need our cooperation and our high-risk populations need our cooperation," she said in an emailed statement. "I know we can turn this trend around, and we can do it by practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, staying home and away from others when we are sick, and washing our hands regularly."
Friday's dramatic uptick comes a day after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said hospital officials believe 800 cases per day is the limit the state's rolling seven-day average can get to. Dunn said Thursday the seven-day average is now considered a more relevant metric for assessing Utah's current COVID-19 situation, as it helps health officials look at larger trends and reduces the noise of day-to-day fluctuations in new cases.
Herbert said Thursday the state's current goal is to see that seven-day average drop below 500 new cases per day by August 1.
Friday afternoon, Herbert's office released a statement where he did not rule out further precautionary measures.
"From the beginning of the pandemic, I have appreciated the advice from our leaders in the healthcare industry," Herbert said. "They are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic and understand as well as anyone the terrible consequences of COVID-19. Today we reported a disturbing new record of cases. As I said yesterday, if we cannot quickly bring the number of cases down by the voluntary use of masks and physical distancing we will consider stronger measures, including a mask mandate, as Texas and other states have implemented. As leaders from our churches, hospitals, and our businesses have reiterated, all we ask is wear a mask."
There were 48 more people hospitalized from Thursday to Friday, according to state health data. There are currently 182 total people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Utah, up from 177 Thursday. The number of COVID-19-positive people in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds as of Friday is 79, up five from Thursday, according to state data.
About 66% of all ICU beds in Utah are occupied as of Friday, down slightly from 67% Thursday. About 56% of all Utah hospital beds are occupied as of Friday, the health department reports.
Individual hospitals typically reach their efficiency limits when they are 80-90% full, according to health officials.
Friday’s totals give Utah 28,223 total confirmed cases, with 1,748 total hospitalizations and 207 total deaths from the disease. Previously, there were 27,356 cases in the state.
Of the 395,974 tests conducted in Utah so far, 7.1% were positive for COVID-19. The number of tests conducted has increased by 7,241, the health department reported Friday.
One of the deaths reported Friday was a man from Washington County who was between the ages of 65 and 84. He was hospitalized before he died, the health department reports.
The second death was a Salt Lake County woman who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility, according to the health department.
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.
Also Thursday, Herbert extended a health order that will see Utah's current health risk levels for COVID-19 remain in place until July 24. Salt Lake City will remain in the orange, moderate-risk level for COVID-19. Beaver, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Kane, Millard, Piute, Uintah and Wayne counties will remain in the green, "new normal" risk level, and the rest of the state will stay in the yellow, low-risk level, according to the order.
Herbert also extended a health order that requires anyone entering a state facility or building to wear a face covering. That order has also been extended through July 24.
There is no COVID-19 news conference expected today. Utah officials typically provide updates once weekly on Wednesdays or Thursdays.