Yukai Peng, KSL file

Utah County seeing rise in student infections as state reports 563 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 14, 2020 at 5:41 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 14, 2020 at 1:09 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — State officials say a recent rise in COVID-19 cases may be attributable to increased infections among college-aged young adults in Utah County.

Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 563 from Sunday, with three more deaths reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.

The department now estimates there are 9,068 active cases of the disease in Utah. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 487, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 9.8%.

The new numbers indicate a 1% increase in positive cases since Sunday. Of the 721,682 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 8.1% have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of tests conducted has increased by 4,809 as of Monday, state data shows.

Utah County leads new case counts as BYU disciplines 15 students for COVID-19 violations

College-aged young adults in Utah County are thought to account for the majority of new cases in recent days, according to health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

Since Friday, about 39% of new COVID-19 cases have come from Utah County, despite that county accounting for only 20% of the state's total population, Dunn said in a news release. Most of those cases are among people aged 14-24, with a large portion of cases among college-aged young adults, Dunn added.

"We are experiencing a clear upward trend in case counts right now," she said.

Dunn didn't say if the majority of the new Utah County cases are coming from students at Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University or another population of people in the 14-24 age group.

However, a "small number" of COVID-19 cases led to the delay of BYU's upcoming road football game against Army. The Cougars are one of the only teams west of Texas that was playing a football season, but the future of their season may now be in question.

There is currently no makeup date for BYU vs. Army. BYU's next game is currently scheduled for Sept. 26 in Provo and will be against Troy.

Meanwhile, a group called Young/Dumb has been hosting controversial off-campus parties in Provo, which large groups of students have attended. It's not clear if the parties have played a part in the delay of BYU's football game or the increase of cases in Utah County. But Dunn pleaded with students Monday to be cautious with their activities off-campus.

"Colleges across the state, and specifically in Utah County, have acted proactively to implement solid prevention measures on their campuses. They need help from their students to act responsibly while off campus," she said. "What students do off campus has a direct impact on a school's ability to safely operate their campus."

In a series of tweets on Sept. 4, BYU said many were complying with safety recommendations to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus. But the university issued a plea similar to Dunn's regarding off-campus activities.

BYU officials tweeted Monday afternoon that to date, 15 students have been disciplined after “refusing” to follow the school’s COVID-19 safety requirements.

School officials have “repeatedly & urgently asked members of our campus community to please be intentional right now to keep themselves and our community safe,” BYU officials wrote on Twitter.

Those students can no longer attend on-campus events, including classes, work or any other campus services.

"We're encouraged so many are following requirements on campus. However, we're concerned (with) reports & videos circulating about off-campus activities," BYU tweeted. "Let's work through this together, with compassion. We can still maintain an on-campus experience, if we can all do our part."

In general, people should avoid large, indoor gatherings where social distancing isn't possible, Dunn said. People should continue following the state's safety recommendations for COVID-19, such as wearing face coverings while in public, staying home when you're sick and following isolation procedures set forth by public health departments, she added.

Across Utah, there are now 134 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, including 54 occupying intensive care unit, or ICU beds. About 64% of ICU beds in Utah are occupied as of Monday, while about 49% of non-ICU beds are filled, state data shows.

All three deaths reported Monday were men. One was a Duchesne County resident who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when he died. The second was a Salt Lake County resident who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when he died. The third death was a Utah County resident who was between the ages of 25 and 44 and was hospitalized when he died.

Monday's totals give Utah 58,438 total confirmed cases, with 3,338 total hospitalizations and 436 total deaths from the disease. An estimated 48,934 COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered in Utah, according to the health department.

There is not a COVID-19 news conference scheduled for Monday. Utah officials typically provide updates at news conferences once a week on Wednesdays or Thursdays.

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.

Jacob Klopfenstein

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