SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City's mayor is requesting for the city to move back to the orange restriction level under the state's coronavirus guidelines as Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases increased by 716 on Tuesday, with six more deaths reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Until Tuesday, Utah had reported more than 1,000 new cases every day in October. Tuesday's increase breaks that five-day streak, but Utah's COVID-19 statistics are still trending high.
The health department now estimates there are 20,417 active cases of the disease in Utah — the highest estimate so far and the second day in a row that estimate has been above 20,000 cases. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 1,035, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 13.8%.
The new numbers indicate a 0.9% increase in positive cases since Monday. Of the 875,601 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 9.2% have tested positive. The state reported an increase of 9,421 new tests conducted as of Tuesday.
There are currently 208 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Utah, including 79 in intensive care unit beds across the state. About 67% of all ICU beds are occupied as of Tuesday, while about 47% of non-ICU beds are filled, state data shows.
Five of the six deaths reported Tuesday were Salt Lake County men. Two of those were men between the ages of 65 and 84 who were hospitalized when they died, and two were men between the ages of 65 and 84 who were residents of long-term care facilities. The fifth death was a man over the age of 85 who was a resident of a long-term care facility.
The sixth death reported Tuesday was a Davis County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when he died.
Tuesday's totals give Utah 79,439 total confirmed cases, with 4,058 total hospitalizations and 488 total deaths from the disease. A total of 58,534 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, according to the health department.
Utah officials typically provide updates at news conferences once a week on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Salt Lake City requests to be moved back to orange restrictions
As Utah continues seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Tuesday announced she has requested that the city move back to a modified version of the orange, moderate restriction level under the Utah Leads Together plan.
"Our data’s continuing upward trend is alarming and swift action is necessary. The shift to orange should be a signal to Salt Lake City residents of the gravity of this situation," Mendenhall said in a news release.
Salt Lake City has been at the yellow, low restriction level for COVID-19.
If the change request is approved, Salt Lake City would be following in the footsteps of Orem and Provo in Utah County. Last month, as the state saw a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases centered around those Utah County cities, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert mandated Orem and Provo move from the yellow restrictions level back to orange.
Moving back to the orange restriction level would cap gatherings at 20 people, instead of the 50-person cap permitted under the yellow restrictions level. Mendenhall may also request to modify some of the health guidelines in the orange level to allow for adaptations that businesses have made to keep people safe, the news release said.
"We want to continually adapt and evolve necessary precautions to net the public health benefits we need, so that we can impact these numbers without unnecessarily putting burdens on city residents and businesses. We all need to stay safe to keep businesses open," the mayor said in the release.
Mendenhall has submitted the change request to county and state officials, who could make the change official by the weekend, according to the news release.
If the city is moved back to orange restrictions, no businesses would need to close, Mendenhall said, noting “most businesses are already operating under the kind of health and safety protocols that comply with the orange restrictions.”
She added that mask wearing is a huge necessity to combat the spread of the virus.
“As residents, I think we’ve already overcome the biggest hurdle, which is just having a mask,” Mendenhall said. “Being willing to put it on when we go into the grocery store or a place of work — we’ve gotta get those masks out more often.”
However, Mendenhall said residents need to wear them, especially when attending family and social gatherings.
“We’re putting them away when we’re with family or friends, when we’re at a backyard barbecue or going to a birthday party — that’s exactly when we need to be putting them on and that public health data shows us that it’s in these group settings, these social settings when we’re starting to see this spike really take hold.”
Contributing: Jay Hancock, KSL TV
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.