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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders say they like where Utah is headed in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but said the state's goal is now to focus equally on improving public health and the health of the state's economy moving forward.
Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 346 from Wednesday, with three more deaths reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Herbert once again cautioned that it is not time to declare victory, but rather Utahns should redouble their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I think we’re doing pretty well, all things considered,” the governor said. "I like the trend, I like the road we’re on.”
Herbert also announced that Box Elder and Carbon counties will move to the green, or "new normal," COVID-19 restrictions level. State leaders also discussed a new accountability framework under the Utah Leads Together plan, which includes specific data points and metrics designed to further hone the state's COVID-19 response.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, along with Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox, Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, provided a COVID-19 update at a news conference Thursday morning.
Watch the replay of the event below.
New COVID-19 cases
The health department now estimates there are 8,044 active cases of COVID-19 in Utah. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 381, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 9.1%.
The new numbers indicate a 0.6% increase in positive cases since Wednesday. Of the 703,766 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 8% have tested positive for COVID-19. An increase of 5,225 tests conducted was reported as of Thursday.
A total of 118 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Utah, including 48 in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds. About 68% of all ICU beds in the state are occupied as of Thursday, while about 51% of non-ICU beds are filled, state data shows.
All three deaths reported Thursday were residents of long-term care facilities. One was a Davis County man who was over the age of 85, the second was a Salt Lake County woman who was over the age of 85, and the third was a Utah County woman who was between the ages of 45 and 64, according to the health department.
Thursday's totals give Utah 56,019 total confirmed cases, with 3,273 total hospitalizations and 430 total deaths from the disease. An estimated 47,545 COVID-19 cases in Utah are now considered recovered.
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.
Data included in this story primarily reflects the state of Utah as a whole. For more localized data, visit your local health district's website.
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.
State debuts new accountability framework
State leaders on Thursday debuted a new set of specific data points and metrics that are designed to keep Utah's coronavirus response on track moving forward.
Some of the metrics leaders are focusing on are now listed at coronavirus.utah.gov/scoreboard.
The state is far from the finish line of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Brad Wilson said. Utah is closer to the midpoint of the pandemic, he added.
“All Utahns need to be involved and do their part in this effort," Wilson said.
Wilson, along with Senate President Stuart Adams, said state leaders want to focus equally on improving public health and preserving the health of Utah's economy moving forward.
The state's monthly unemployment rate is now under 4.5%, according to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. Officials had set that goal earlier in the pandemic and are committed to getting Utahns back to work, he said.
Other metrics the state will focus on include keeping the state's mortality rate for COVID-19 under 1%, Cox added. Additionally, state leaders want to see fewer than 70 new COVID-19 per week that are associated with places of work, he said.