Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file

Test center closures may explain increase of 656 new COVID-19 cases reported in Utah Friday

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 11, 2020 at 1:55 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 11, 2020 at 1:03 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Testing center closures earlier this week due to Labor Day and the windstorm may explain why Utah on Friday saw its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since late July, according to state health officials.

Utah’s number of cases increased by 656 from Thursday, with one more death reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Health officials now estimate there are 8,223 active cases of the disease in the state. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 402, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 9%.

Health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn noted that Friday's increase is the largest single-day increase since late July but said a single day's statistics does not necessarily reflect a larger trend.

"Additionally, many testing locations were closed Monday for Labor Day and Tuesday due to the wind storm," Dunn said in a news release. "It's possible people who would have been tested Monday and Tuesday waited until later in the week to be tested, resulting in an increase in the number of positive cases identified today."

Initial analysis of the cases reported Friday shows the vast majority are from Salt Lake and Utah counties, according to Dunn. About 40% of the cases came from Salt Lake County, and about 33% came from Utah County. About 40% of the cases reported Friday were among children and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24, Dunn said.

The seven-day average of new cases, reported at 403 per day as of Friday, is lower than the seven-day average last week, which was reported at 409 cases per day last Friday, Dunn added. She has previously indicated that health officials place more stock in seven-day averages than single-day increases.

"We are looking closely at the numbers, and want to reiterate, as we have throughout this response, that one day of data does not necessarily indicate a trend," Dunn said.

Friday's new numbers indicate a 1.2% increase in positive cases since Thursday. Of the 707,807 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 8% have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of tests conducted has increased by 4,041 as of Friday, the health department reports.

There are currently 123 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Utah, including 48 in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds across the state, health department data shows. About 67% of the state's total ICU beds are occupied as of Friday, while about 54% of non-ICU beds are full, according to the state.

The death reported Friday was a man from Salt Lake County who was over the age of 85, according to the health department. He was not hospitalized when he died.

Friday's totals give Utah 56,675 total confirmed cases, with 3,288 total hospitalizations and 431 total deaths from the disease. An estimated 48,021 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, state data shows.

There is not a COVID-19 news conference expected Friday. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state officials provided a pandemic update on Thursday.

Box Elder and Carbon counties have moved to the green, "new normal" restrictions level for COVID-19. Herbert announced the change at Thursday's news conference, and it took effect on Friday.

Beaver, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sevier, Uintah and Wayne counties are also currently under the green restriction level. The rest of Utah is under the yellow, low restriction level for COVID-19, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard.

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.

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.

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