Scott G Winterton, KSL, File

Health association calls for stricter COVID-19 measures in Utah as 10 deaths, 1,575 new cases

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Updated - Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:49 p.m. | Posted - Oct. 28, 2020 at 1:06 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Public Health Association called for stricter measures to be taken to slow the spread of coronavirus as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Utah increased by 1,575 on Wednesday, with an additional 10 deaths from the disease.

The 10 COVID-19 deaths match the highest death total reported by the Utah Department of Health in a single day. That brings Utah to 108,803 total COVID-19 cases and 588 deaths reported by the department since the pandemic began.

The new case figures come as 7,364 more Utahns' test results were reported Wednesday.

According to the Central Utah Public Health Department, one reported death marks the first novel coronavirus-related fatality from Millard County since the pandemic began.

Wednesday was the second time since the pandemic began that the health department announced 10 deaths reported in a single day, with the first being July 14.

The health department says that 299 Utahns are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, and 117 of the patients are reported to be in intensive care. The state is currently using about 70% of its ICU beds for various types of patients.

Over the past week, the state is averaging 1,549 new cases per day and a positive test percentage of 17.9. Of the state's total case figure, the health department considers 28,297 of those cases to be active and 79,918 to be recovered.

A call for stricter measures

In light of the continued increase in cases, the Utah Public Health Association said in a letter on Wednesday that stricter measures must be taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While the group supports the state's recent move to its COVID-19 Transmission Index, the association says more needs to be done. Specifically, they suggest:

  • "Deliver a unified 'mask-up and get tested' message from all elected leaders
  • Develop and expand a targeted, cultural-competent public information campaign promoting the new Transmission Index as still too many Utahns do not know about the new health guidance
  • Encourage the public's cooperation with contact tracing activities
  • Expand symptomatic/asymptomatic testing in geographic areas with high transmission rates
  • Include public health officials to enforce Transmission Index requirements"

The group is made up of more than 200 public health workers, epidemiology experts, those in health education and contact tracers.

According to a news release, the group "is a leader in promoting public health practice and advocating for sound public health policy."

"Utah's public health workforce is on the front lines of this crisis," the group wrote in a statement. "UPHA urges the public to wear a mask and physically distance with individuals outside their immediate household. In addition, UPHA urges the public to get tested if experiencing a COVID-19 related symptom or if they have been exposed to the disease."

The group urged public officials to step up and take more action against COVID-19 for the sake of Utahns' safety.

"It is critical that Utahns wear masks, physically distance themselves in all gatherings and get tested, so that we can get through this crisis together," said Paul Wightman, executive director of the group. "Let's not blame or shame individuals. Instead, let's adopt and enforce sound, evidence-based public policies to keep all Utahns safe and healthy."

10 new deaths reported

In an email, the health department released more details about the new reported deaths. They included:

  • A Salt Lake County woman between ages 45 and 64 who was hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County woman between ages 45 and 64; officials do not know if she was hospitalized
  • A Salt Lake County woman between ages 65 and 84 who was the resident of a long-term care facility
  • A Salt Lake County woman over age 85 who was the resident of a long-term care facility
  • A Salt Lake County man between ages 65 and 84 who was hospitalized
  • A Utah County woman between ages 65 and 84 who was the resident of a long-term care facility
  • A Millard County man between ages 65 and 84; officials do not know if he was hospitalized
  • A Weber County man between ages 65 and 84 who was hospitalized
  • Two Weber County women between ages 65 and 84 who were hospitalized

There was no press conference about the virus scheduled for Wednesday. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and health officials gave a Spanish-language press briefing on Tuesday, and the governor's regular weekly news conference is scheduled for 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.

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