SALT LAKE CITY — For the second Wednesday in a row, Utah public health officials have reported over 800 new COVID-19 cases.
On the plus side, Utah crossed the milestone of 3 million total vaccine doses administered in the state as of Wednesday.
The Utah Department of Health reported 843 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, along with six more deaths and 350 current hospitalizations. It's the second time this month that more than 800 new cases were reported in a single day after 873 cases were reported on July 21.
Before that, the health department hadn't reported more than 800 cases in a single day since February.
But as Utah's surge of the delta variant of the virus among unvaccinated people continues, vaccinations haven't ceased. The 6,578 new vaccinations administered puts Utah at a total of 3,001,472 doses administered since the start of the pandemic — the first time that total's been above 3 million.
Most Utah health officials and policymakers say the state won't follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance that reverses course on mask wearing. The CDC on Tuesday announced recommendations that fully vaccinated people should go back to wearing masks in public indoor settings. Everyone in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, should also wear masks, the CDC recommended.
But Dr. Angela Dunn, the former state epidemiologist who is now the head of the Salt Lake County Health Department, continues to advocate for following the CDC's guidelines. It's important for fully vaccinated people to continue masking to protect those children under age 12 who aren't eligible for vaccines yet, she said.
"If most of our eligible population gets vaccinated, we will decrease spread and not need masks. Until then, we need to stop the spread with masks too," Dunn said in a tweet Tuesday. "If we don't, the virus has the opportunity to keep mutating and getting stronger."
Continuing to wear masks isn't about protecting people who refuse to get vaccinated, Dunn added. It's about protecting those who can't get them yet.
"By doing that you are also protecting yourself. You will limit the opportunity for the virus to mutate more and become a variant that escapes our current vaccines," she said.
1/ Feeling confused? Frustrated? Just over it? I get it. Why do we have to mask AGAIN? If you are vax'd, you will likely have mild illness from Delta. BUT you can spread it just as much as unvax'd. SO if there are lots of unvax'd around, we all need to mask to stop spread— Dr. Angela Dunn (@DrAngelaCDunn) July 28, 2021
Utah's rolling seven-day average for positive cases in the state is now at 649. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "people over people" method is now 14.4%. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "test over test" method is now 10.2%.
A total of 1,658,317 Utahns — which is about 51.7% of the state's total population — have now received at least a first dose of the vaccine. A total of 1,472,552 Utahns — about 45.9% of the population — are fully vaccinated. For vaccine-eligible Utahns ages 12 and older, about 64% have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and 56.8% are fully vaccinated.
Of the 350 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, 157 are in intensive care units, according to health department data. About 82% of all ICU hospital beds in Utah are now occupied, including about 86% of ICU beds at the state's 16 referral hospitals. That means that the 16 referral hospitals are essentially out of ICU beds that they are able to staff.
The six deaths reported Wednesday were:
- A Kane County woman between the ages of 65 and 84 who was hospitalized when she died.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
- Two Uintah County men, 65-84, one hospitalized and one not hospitalized.
- A Weber County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
Of the 2,904,382 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 14.8% have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of total tests conducted since the pandemic began in Utah is now at 5,290,078, up 11,602 since Tuesday. Of those, 6,834 were tests of people who hadn't previously been tested for COVID-19.
Wednesday's totals give Utah 430,143 total confirmed coronavirus cases, with 18,476 total hospitalizations and 2,447 total deaths from the disease.
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.