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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials confirmed 1,598 new COVID-19 cases, as well as 19 deaths on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 371 were school-age children — 147 cases were ages 5-10, 76 cases were 11-13, and 148 cases were 14-17, the Utah Department of Health said in a daily update.
The rolling, seven-day average for new cases is now 1,401, and the percent positivity rate of those tested is 13.6%.
Health care workers administered 5,826 vaccines since Wednesday's report, bringing total vaccinations given in Utah to 3,411,342 doses, according to the data. Now 52% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.
In the last 28 days, unvaccinated residents have faced 5.2 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 7.1 times greater risk of being hospitalized due to the coronavirus and 6.5 times greater risk of testing positive than vaccinated people, state health officials said.
Since Feb. 1, unvaccinated residents have experienced 4.2 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 5.0 times greater risk of being hospitalized due to the disease and 4.3 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people, data shows.
On Thursday, Huntsman Cancer Center leaders urged cancer patients and those around them to get vaccinated.
Dr. Sachin Apte, chief clinical officer and physician-in-chief at Huntsman Cancer Institute and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Utah Health, recommends cancer patients to get their additional dose of the vaccine, which was recently approved by the FDA. Those who are severely immunocompromised should talk to their doctors first, he said.
Cancer patients who have received an mRNA vaccine more than four weeks ago can get their additional dose — ideally from the same brand. For those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, guidance hasn't yet been released, the doctor said.
Immune systems are critical for fighting viruses like COVID-19. The treatments many cancer patients receive such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery can make their immune systems weaker, Apte said.
Immunocompromised patients are more likely to contract a disease and to get a severe case, he noted, as well as long-term symptoms.
"So it is very important that our cancer patient community get their vaccinations so that they can protect themselves and others," Apte said.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson toured the Utah Valley Intermountain Hospital on Thursday with local political and health officials and expressed her admiration for seeing "health care heroes" in action.
"Today I toured yet another full ICU," Henderson said in a statement. "The new reality is that the patients in this wave of the pandemic are younger and sicker. The fact that most of the illnesses and deaths now caused by COVID-19 are preventable with a simple vaccination only deepens this tragedy. My admiration for the health care heroes at Utah Valley Hospital grew even more today as I watched them in action. I am sincerely thankful for their relentless efforts despite their fatigue, and undaunted optimism in the face of discouragement."
Of the cases reported Thursday, 409 were "breakthrough," meaning they had been fully vaccinated more than two weeks ago. The state also confirmed 17 new breakthrough hospitalizations and seven breakthrough deaths, according to the state health department data.
Apte said Huntsman Cancer Center has seen a few breakthrough cases in cancer patients.
"There are cancer patients that because the vaccine relies on our own immune system to be most functional, when a patient is already immunocompromised ... the vaccine may be less effective, and so you do see breakthrough cases, especially those that are highest risk," Apte said.
Since vaccines became available beginning early this year, the state has confirmed 15,879 breakthrough cases, 827 breakthrough hospitalizations and 106 breakthrough deaths. Cases are counted as breakthroughs if patients were fully vaccinated more than two weeks before they tested positive for the coronavirus.
On Thursday, 562 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Utah, an increase of one since the previous day. Referral ICUs that can treat the most seriously ill patients were 94.8% full with coronavirus patients and others; overall ICU use stood at 92.5%; and non-ICUs across the state were 66.3% full.
Four of the deaths reported Thursday occurred before September. The latest deaths include:
- Two Davis County men between the ages of 65 and 84, who were both hospitalized when they died.
- A Davis County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
- Two Iron County men, 45-64, one of whom was hospitalized and one who was not.
- A Millard County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County men, older than 85, long-term care facility residents.
- A Salt Lake County woman, older than 85, not hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County men, 65-84, one of whom was hospitalized and one with unknown hospitalization status.
- Two Salt Lake County women, 65-84, one of whom was a long-term care resident and one with unknown hospitalization status.
- A Utah County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, 25-44, hospitalized.
- A Washington County man, older than 85, hospitalized.
- A Washington County man, 45-64, unknown hospitalization status.
- A Weber County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.