Kristin Murphy, KSL file

Utah doctors call for statewide mask mandate as rolling 7-day average tops 1,000 COVID-19 cases Monday

By Jacob Klopfenstein and Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 28, 2020 at 6:34 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 28, 2020 at 1:05 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase — with 827 new cases reported on Monday — the Utah Medical Association has called on the state to implement a statewide mask mandate.

With Monday’s new numbers, the state now estimates there are 16,459 active cases of the disease in Utah — a 1.2% increase in positive cases from Sunday. No new deaths were reported by the health department.

The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 1,001 — the first time the average has broken 1,000 since the pandemic began. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 14%.

Of the 817,461 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 8.7% have tested positive for the disease. The health department reported an increase of 6,212 tests conducted as of Monday.

There are currently 167 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Utah, including 66 in intensive care unit, or ICU, beds across the state, health department data shows. About 65% of all ICU beds in Utah are occupied as of Monday, while about 45% of non-ICU beds are filled.

Monday's totals give Utah 71,442 total confirmed cases, with 3,757 total hospitalizations, and 453 total deaths from the disease. A total of 54,530 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, according to the health department.

Related:

The health department has added some additional information to the state's coronavirus dashboard, including more information about outbreaks in schools. The department has also prepared an instructional video about the changes to the dashboard.

Calls for a statewide mask mandate continue

As the state continues to see a record-breaking spike of new COVID-19 cases, another group has called on Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to issue a statewide mask mandate.

The Utah Medical Association sent a letter to the governor last week calling for a mandatory face coverings rule amid consistent record-breaking numbers, according to a Monday press release.

Founded in 1895, the association is the largest physician organization in the state, according to its website.

“Face coverings reduce transmission of the virus, which in turn will allow our state economy to remain more open, and allow people to more safely interact,” said association CEO Michelle S. McOmber. “That benefits everyone.”

During a spike of COVID-19 cases in July, the Utah Hospital Association and Salt Lake Chamber also called on Herbert to implement a mandatory face mask mandate for areas under red, orange and yellow restrictions.

Utah County health officials implemented a mask mandate last week after Orem and Provo were both moved back to orange-level restrictions.

The highest percentage of cases in the state is in Salt Lake County at 43.6% — down from 50.6% in June, according to USAFacts.org data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 26.1% of the state’s cases are in Utah County, up from 17.9% in June.

Following the state's spike over the summer, Herbert declined to implement a mask mandate and instead called on Utahns to "do better" about voluntarily wearing them.

Last week, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson again called on the governor to implement a mask mandate, saying: "Please Governor, we need you to move from requests to requirements." Herbert criticized the letter, calling it a “political stunt.”

Following record-breaking COVID-19 cases last week, officials said a face mask requirement was on the table but Herbert ultimately declined to implement one, saying that would be "overkill" and a one-size-fits-all approach isn't appropriate.

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
Lauren Bennett

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