The spread of the coronavirus remains a concern across the nation as 2020 winds to a close. Thousands of new cases continue to be reported each day, and numbers are spiking in states nationwide.
The numbers in Utah tell a story of increasing rates of hospitalization and death, though some counties are doing better than others. The New York Times is compiling reported data from across the nation to maintain a comprehensive running total of how the disease is spreading. Here's a look at how Utah is doing compared to other states.
Recent Utah case counts
As of Dec. 7, Utah had 217,638 total cases reported with 2,231 reported on Dec. 7 alone. In the last 14 days, Utah has seen a 7% decrease in new reported cases, but a 7% increase in hospitalizations and 5% death rate increase.
A measure of the hardest-hit counties is taken by comparing a running case total of new cases per 100,000 residents. In the last seven days, the following counties have had the highest rates of new cases, according to the Times:
County Rate per 100,000
Nursing home case counts
Nursing homes have been the source of some of the worst outbreaks during the pandemic and have reported the highest death rates. While 5% of all U.S. cases have been linked to nursing homes and assisted living homes, 38% of all U.S. deaths have resulted from these same places.
In 13 states, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths have originated in nursing homes. Utah's nursing home numbers leave it tied for 35th place (with South Carolina and West Virginia) with nursing homes accounting for 35% of all Utah COVID-19 deaths, reports the Times.
Outbreaks across the nation
New cases continue to peak in metro and micropolitan areas across the nation. The New York Times has ranked micro and metropolitan areas with more populations of more than 50,000 people according to how they're coping with the pandemic. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 384 metropolitan areas and 543 micropolitan areas in the U.S.
The highest daily number of new cases is in Carson City, NV. With a population of 55,916, the capitol of Nevada has seen the highest average daily caseload in the last two weeks with 174.6 per 100,000.
Cumberland, MD, Roswell, NM, Hutchinson, KS and Johnstown, PA round out the top five outbreaks with over 141 cases per 100,000 each.
Salt Lake City's metropolitan area, with a population of 1.2 million, ranks 104th in the nation with 84.8 new cases per 100,000.
Fastest increasing daily new cases
New infections are rising fastest in the nation in Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA, where in the last week, new cases have jumped by 708 per 100,000. Cedar City comes in at 11th in the nation with an increase of 328 new cases per 100,000. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area ranks 182nd with 124 new cases per 100,000.
Highest cumulative case rates since the start of the pandemic
Bismark, ND has seen the highest cumulative case rates with 131 people out of 1,000 reporting a positive test at some point. Rexburg, ID comes in at 10th in the nation, with 101 positive cases per 1,000 and Salt Lake City is ranked 56th with 74 cases per 1,000.
As universities and colleges reopened to some level of in-person learning, every state has reported cases in at least one place of higher learning. In Utah, there have been 8,781 cases at 10 schools, including 2,993 at BYU, 1,864 at the University of Utah, and 1,594 at Utah State, reports the NYT.
Texas has seen the highest number of collegiate cases, with over 26,000 reported positive tests. Florida comes in second with more than 16,000 cases.
Death rates above normal show cumulative pandemic toll
A comparison with the average death rates in a normal year indicates 345,000 more people have died in the United States this year than in a year without COVID-19, reports the New York Times.
A comparison of death rates in each state compared to a normal year indicates the Northeastern states were impacted most severely in the spring, coastal states saw their highest rates in the summer, and the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region are seeing their highest rates now.
As of Dec. 2, there are 18 states with death rates spiking above normal, including Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. In Utah, this translates to an estimated 1,600 excess deaths this year, which is an increased death rate of 12%, according to the NYT.
How to keep Utah safe and open
While there's not much anyone can do to eradicate the virus, there are steps the community as a whole can take to slow the spread keep the economy going. In addition to individuals washing their hands and maintaining a distance from each other, businesses can pledge to keep their customers and community healthy.
Check your favorite businesses to see if they've taken the pledge to Stay Safe to Stay Open. When they take the pledge, they agree to do the following:
- Check symptoms before work and stay home when sick.
- Wash our hands frequently and avoid touching our face and eyes.
- Practice social distancing including wearing face coverings in close common areas.
- Learn about high-risk groups and help protect them.
- Cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze.
- Clean high touch surfaces frequently.
- Follow public health guidance as updated.
To make the pledge and hang up the sign indicating you pledge to keep everyone healthy, visit stayopenutah.com.