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Laura Seitz, KSL

863 new Utah COVID-19 cases, 6 deaths as governor calls for perseverance on Pioneer Day

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:44 p.m. | Posted - Jul. 24, 2020 at 11:28 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 863 on Friday, with six more deaths reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Friday's 863 cases officially mark the state's third-highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases reported during the coronavirus pandemic. However, July 16's total of 954 cases also included a large number of backdated cases, so Friday actually ranks a close second to the 867 reported on July 10.

The higher increase Friday comes after four straight days when Utah saw fewer than 600 new cases per day. The health department now estimates there are 12,975 active cases of the disease in Utah.

The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 614, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 9.1%.

Utah also now has the highest number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized of the entire pandemic, with 225 in hospitals as of Friday, the health department reported. That breaks the previous record of 210 patients currently hospitalized, which was set on July 12 and again on Thursday, state data shows.

But Friday's high increase in cases is a significant setback to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's goal of seeing the state's seven-day rolling average of new cases drop below 500 per day by August 1.

Had the number of new cases been at or below 500 for the next three days, the rolling seven-day average would have dropped below that goal. But just one day of a higher increase can greatly affect the seven-day rolling average, and with that average now at 614, Herbert's goal may need to be pushed out further.

On July 9, Herbert said face coverings would be required in state buildings and for children returning to school in the fall, but said he prefers to see COVID-19 cases counts reduced by the start of next month to issuing a statewide mask mandate.

Herbert urges Utahns to embrace pioneer spirit

Herbert called earlier this week for Utahns to embrace a persevering, pioneer spirit in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday, he again likened the state’s struggles now to the struggles of the 1847 pioneers.

“We, too, are pioneers,” he said in a Friday statement issued by his office. “Only instead of braving hunger, the elements or persecution, we are battling the worst health crisis to hit the United States in more than a century.”

Friday, Pioneer Day, marks the 173rd anniversary of when Latter-day Saint settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley for the first time, having made a long and treacherous journey across the Great Plains from Illinois.

In the statement, Herbert asserted that the enduring attitudes of the pioneers — and their tendency to unite in the face of adversity instead of pointing fingers — continues in Utah today.

By the time those pioneers made it to Utah in the fall of 1847, it was too late to plant crops to harvest before the winter, so they survived the cold months on foraged roots and greens.

The next spring, late frosts and crickets destroyed much of the pioneers’ early crops. But they came together, and their crops flourished later in the summer, Herbert’s office said.

“Out of scarcity, in time they wrought abundance and laid the foundation upon which the Utah we know and love is built,” Herbert said.

6 COVID-19 deaths

Friday's totals give Utah 36,962 total confirmed cases, with 2,188 total hospitalizations and 273 total deaths from the disease.

The jump of 863 more cases indicates a 2.4% increase in positive cases since Thursday. Of the 494,071 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 7.5% were positive for COVID-19. The total tests conducted increased by 8,649 as of Friday, the health department reported.

Out of the 225 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Utah, 97 are in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds, according to state data.

A total of about 68% of all ICU beds at Utah hospitals are occupied as of Friday, the health department reports. There are about 600 ICU beds in Utah. About 54% of non-ICU beds are occupied at Utah hospitals Friday.

The deaths reported Friday were:

  • A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a long-term care facility resident.
  • A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a long-term care facility resident.
  • A third Salt Lake County man who was older than 90 and a long-term care facility resident.
  • A Salt Lake County woman who was over the age of 85 and was a long-term care facility resident.
  • A Davis County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a long-term care facility resident.
  • A Washington County man who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was hospitalized when he died.

The health department originally reported that three of the deaths were from Salt Lake County and two from Davis; it later corrected that information to show four of the deaths were Salt Lake County residents.

A total of 23,715 COVID-19 cases are considered recovered, the health department reports.

Governor asks for pandemic unity

It is time now for Utahns to pay tribute to the pioneers by uniting and persevering through the pandemic, Herbert's statement said.

Doing so will ensure Utah is protected for future generations and will remain, as pioneer leader Brigham Young intoned in his famous words, "the right place."

“We can either respond by throwing our hands up in despair or casting blame, or we can come together to do the hard work and to make the shared sacrifices required to prevail over this pandemic,” Herbert’s statement said. “So, as we celebrate this July 24, may we not only remember these remarkable pioneers, but also reflect on what we can do to follow in their footsteps, to entrust their — and our — heritage to future generations and ensure that Utah remains the right place.”

Methodology:

Test results now include data from PCR tests and antigen tests. Positive COVID-19 test results are reported to the health department immediately after they are confirmed, but negative test results may not be reported for 24 to 72 hours.

The total number of cases reported by the Utah Department of Health each day includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah's outbreak began, including those who are currently infected, those who have recovered from the disease, and those who have died.

Recovered cases are defined as anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 three or more weeks ago and has not died.

Deaths reported by the state typically occurred two to seven days prior to when they are reported, according to the health department. Some deaths may be from even further back, especially if the person is from Utah but has died in another state.

The health department reports both confirmed and probable COVID-19 case deaths per the case definition outlined by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. The death counts are subject to change as case investigations are completed.

Information is from the Utah Department of Health and coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts. For more information on how the Utah Department of Health compiles and reports COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and scroll down to the "Data Notes" section at the bottom of the page.

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