SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah enters the final hours before a statewide mask mandate ends at the end of the day Friday, the state's number of COVID-19 cases increased by 444, with nine more deaths and 46,995 vaccinations reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.
As outlined in Utah House Bill 294, also known as the pandemic "endgame" bill, masks won't be required in most settings after Friday. Masks will still be required in K-12 schools, at gatherings of 50 or more people, at private businesses that still require them, and a limited amount of other settings. Grand County and Salt Lake City also have elected to keep mask mandates in place.
Health officials urged people to continue wearing masks after the mandate lifts.
"Until more people have a chance to get vaccinated, we urge people to continue to wear masks in public places and around those who haven't been vaccinated," health department executive director Richard Saunders said in a news release Friday. "We've come so far and are so close to returning to normal. We ask for your patience and cooperation a little while longer."
There are an estimated 8,876 active cases of COVID-19 in Utah, according to the health department. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 402, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "people over people" method is now 7%. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "test over test" method is now 3.4%.
There are now 140 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 55 in intensive care, state data shows. About 70% of Utah's intensive care unit beds are occupied as of Friday, including about 72% of ICU beds in the state's 16 referral hospitals, according to state data. About 54% of non-ICU hospital beds are occupied in Utah.
A total of 1,650,850 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, up from 1,603,855 Thursday. A total of 1,068,003 Utahns have now received at least one vaccine dose, while 649,354 are now fully vaccinated. A total of 1,919,610 vaccine doses have been shipped to the state so far.
The new numbers indicate a 0.1% increase in positive cases since Thursday. Of the 2,436,569 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 16% have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of total tests conducted since the pandemic began is now at 4,352,241, up 12,293 since Thursday. Of those, 5,264 were tests of people who hadn't previously been tested for COVID-19.
The nine deaths reported Friday were:
- A Cache County man who was over the age of 85 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Davis County man who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Davis County woman who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Salt Lake County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Salt Lake County woman who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Salt Lake County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when she died
- A Salt Lake County man who was over the age of 85 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Weber County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
Eight of the deaths occurred before March 18 but were still being investigated by state medical examiners, the health department said. One death of a Salt Lake County woman that was previously reported on Feb. 21 has been removed from the total count after further investigation, health officials said.
Friday's totals give Utah 389,353 total confirmed cases, with 15,728 total hospitalizations and 2,157 total deaths from the disease. An estimated 378,320 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, according to the health department.
There is not a COVID-19 news conference scheduled for this week.
In addition to the end of the statewide mask mandate, HB294 also requires all state and local health orders related to COVID-19 to end on the day that Utah reaches the threshold in three key metrics: the state's 14-day case rate is less than 191 per 100,000 people, the seven-day average of COVID-19 intensive care unit usage is under 15%, and 1,633,000 prime doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been allocated to Utah.
As of Friday, the state's 14-day case rate per 100,000 people is now 176.5, and the COVID-19 ICU usage average is about 9.9%, according to state data. Utah has a long way to go to meet the threshold for the prime vaccine dose allocation: 992,325 prime doses have been allocated to Utah as of this week. It's expected to cross 1,633,000 in the second or third week of May, health officials say.
The first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the sole dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are considered prime doses.
Since the COVID-19 vaccine prime dose allocation is updated just once a week, the number of people who have received one vaccine dose frequently outpaces the prime dose allocation, because it's updated each day on the state's coronavirus website. While the state reported Friday that 1,068,003 Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the prime dose allocation remains at 992,325 for this week.
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.