SALT LAKE CITY — In its daily release of COVID-19 statistics in Utah, the state health department is reporting an additional 2,292 test-confirmed cases and three new deaths from the disease.
That sets a new Utah record for new cases reported in a single day by more than 300 cases; the previous high was set one week ago.
The continued rise in cases prompted the state to issue an emergency alert to cellphones Friday afternoon warning Utahns that local hospitals are "nearly overwhelmed."
"COVID-19 is spreading rapidly," the alert reads. "Record cases. Almost every county is in a high transmission area." The alert reminds Utahns that all counties in this "high" transmission level are under a mask mandate, and that casual social gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer.
"Be careful!" the alert says. It directed Utahns to the state's coronavirus information website, which appeared to have crashed for a time Friday afternoon.
Overall, the Friday numbers bring Utah to 112,932 confirmed cases and 601 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. In an email, the health department said the three new deaths reported were:
- A Salt Lake County man between ages 25 and 44 who was hospitalized when he died
- A Tooele County man between ages 44 and 65 who was also hospitalized
- A Davis County woman between ages 65 and 84 who was the resident of a long-term care facility
This is just the fourth reported Tooele County death due to the coronavirus. Only 22 Utahns between ages 25 and 44 have been lost to the disease.
The health department reported Friday that 318 Utahns are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus and that 5,395 total Utahns have been hospitalized for it overall. Of those hospitalizations, 133 are reported to be in intensive care, contributing to the 72% of state ICU beds currently in use.
Over the past week, the state is averaging 1,622 new cases reported per day and a positive test percentage of 18.2. One month ago, the rolling seven-day average for new cases was 1,017 per day with a positive test percentage of 13.6.
The health department says 10,346 more Utahns were tested for the virus in Friday's report.
No news conference was scheduled for Friday. Gov. Gary Herbert and state health officials briefed the media on Thursday, warning that hospital capacity continues to be strained by the virus' fall uptick.
Herbert released a statement via the health department with Friday's update.
"While it is true that Utah's COVID-19 mortality rate is substantially lower than the national rate, we must not become numb to what these numbers mean for our communities — for those infected, for everyone who loves them," Herbert said. "Assuming a 5 percent hospitalization rate, and a 0.5 percent fatality rate, we would see 115 hospitalizations and 11 deaths, just from the nearly 2,300 cases we are announcing today. This will cause increasing strain on our already overworked medical professionals, and leave even more families with an empty chair at their dinner table. And that is to say nothing of the long-term effects many more of these Utahns will face, even as they recover.
"We cannot be too cautious in our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19."
Salt Lake County Mayor, Jenny Wilson, also released a statement following the latest update.
"Another day with a record number of COVID-19 cases in Utah punctuates the fatigue that we are all feeling. But the virus is not going away on its own. It does not respect political boundaries, age, class, race, or income. Its effects will be felt for a long time. We must continue to dig in and sacrifice for the sake of public health. Those who have been working seven days a week since March to keep us safe should be revered and thanked for their efforts. Threats or protests toward public health officials are abhorrent, and that behavior has no place in Utah or Salt Lake County. Now is the time for us to come together, care for one another, and keep each other safe."
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.