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Kristin Murphy, KSL file

Another new record as Utah reports 1,960 more COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths Friday

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Oct. 23, 2020 at 1:38 p.m. | Posted - Oct. 23, 2020 at 1:11 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 1,960 on Friday — the second day in a row the state has reported a record-high number of new cases in a single day.

Four deaths were also reported Friday, according to the Utah Department of Health. Friday's case counts update obliterates Thursday's previous record by over 400 cases. On Thursday, 1,543 new infections were reported as Utah officials held a COVID-19 news conference in which they appeared defeated, deflated and scared of what's to come.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert continued that tone in a Friday statement.

"This is a record day for Utah — but not a good one. Cases of COVID-19 are at an all-time high, and I am deeply concerned that COVID exhaustion is as well," Herbert said in a news release. "Now is not the time to let down your guard. By public health order, masks are required in 21 counties. Wear one any time you are around someone outside your immediate household, even when around extended family or friends."

The state now estimates there are 26,254 active cases of the disease in Utah. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 1,355, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 15.8%.

Though state officials have shared dire words this week, health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn remained hopeful Friday. In a tweet, she noted that Utah would report a record number of new cases again, but said Arizona was in a similar situation earlier this summer.

That state was able to reduce its cases by 80% in a single month, Dunn said.

The new numbers indicate a 2% increase in positive cases since Wednesday. Of the 1,012,740 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 10.1% have tested positive for COVID-19. The health department reported an increase of 8,454 tests conducted as of Friday.

Health officials have previously said they are trying to increase testing, but daily testing totals have been inconsistent in recent weeks, and health officials indicated Thursday they are likely missing many COVID-19 cases in the community due to a lack of testing.

There are now 313 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Utah as the state's health care systems continue being stretched by the pandemic. Of those, 109 patients are in intensive care unit beds. About 76% of all ICU beds in Utah are filled as of Friday — the highest percentage of the pandemic. About 56% of non-ICU beds are filled, state data shows.

"Up until now, our hospitals have been able to provide good care to all COVID and non-COVID patients who need it. But today we stand on the brink," Herbert said. "If Utahns do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our health care providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it."

University of Utah Health reported its ICU facility is 99% full as of Friday.

The four deaths reported Friday were:

  • A Davis County man who was between the ages of 45 and 64 who was hospitalized when he died
  • A Washington County man who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
  • A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when he died
  • A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was hospitalized when he died

Friday's totals give Utah 101,509 total confirmed cases, with 4,939 total hospitalizations and 567 total deaths from the disease.

There is not a COVID-19 news conference scheduled for Friday. Utah officials provided updates at a news conference Thursday.

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.

More information about Utah's health guidance levels is available at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-health-guidance-levels.

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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