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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported 2,219 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as well as 13 deaths.
The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 1,674 per day, and the average positive rate of those tested is 16.6%, according to a daily update from the Utah Department of Health.
School-age children accounted for 495 of the new cases — 278 were ages 5-10, 105 were 11-13, and 112 were 14-17, officials said.
Health care workers administered 13,338 additional vaccine doses, bringing total doses given in Utah to 3,974,270.
Of the cases confirmed Wednesday, 542 were breakthrough cases in people who had been fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. Now 36,627 breakthrough cases have been confirmed since vaccines became available earlier this year — about 6.3% of the state's 579,376 total cases since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
Three breakthrough cases were also among the deaths reported Wednesday, bringing breakthrough deaths to 228, or 6.7%, of the 3,398 people who have died due to the disease.
Atrial fibrillation study
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Intermountain Healthcare researchers announced that those with atrial fibrillation — a heart condition that affects more than 12 million in the U.S. — face significantly increased risk of complications and death from the novel coronavirus.
Researchers described atrial fibrillation, or AFib, as the most common type of heart arrhythmia in adults. According to the American Heart Association, the condition causes "quivering" or irregular heartbeat, and it can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other complications.
The Intermountain study in Salt Lake City found that those with a history of atrial fibrillation who contract COVID-19 "are not only more likely to need hospitalization, ICU and ventilator support, but nearly 62% more likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart failure hospitalization, and 40% more likely to die than individuals who don't have a history of atrial fibrillation," hospital officials said in a statement.
"We often think of atrial fibrillation as more of a nuisance arrhythmia that can cause unpleasant symptoms and some negative clinical impacts, but is generally not life-threatening," said Dr. Michael J. Cutler, lead investigator of the study and a heart rhythm specialist at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute.
"However, the findings of our study suggest that patients with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk than the general population for serious complications from COVID-19 illness."
Cutler and others who worked on the study presented their findings at the American Heart Association 2021 Scientific Sessions this week.
The study found that 3,119 patients with a prior atrial fibrillation diagnosis who were examined at Intermountain Healthcare after they tested positive for the coronavirus "did clinically worse" than patients without a previous AFib diagnosis. The study took place between March 2020 and May 2021.
Researchers said those patients were more likely to need hospitalization, oxygen support, intensive care unit treatment and ventilators. They were also 61.5% more likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event like heart failure, and 40% more likely to die due to COVID-19 than those without AFib, according to the statement.
Cutler urged patients with AFib to understand they are in a higher-risk category and take precautions against the coronavirus.
The findings will also help doctors understand how to treat atrial fibrillation patients with COVID-19, researchers noted.
The Utah Department of Health announced changes to how race and ethnicity data estimates are reported in the state's COVID-19 data dashboard, including for vaccine uptake, testing, cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Populations the department previously used were based on a person's self-selected identity, allowing residents to identify as one race or multiple combined races, officials said in a statement.
But that created a scenario where someone with a multiple-race identity was counted twice in a population denominator but only once in a race's numerator. That meant if someone identified as both Black and American Indian/Alaska Native, they were counted in the denominator for each of those populations. When they got vaccinated, however, they would only be counted in one of those populations, resulting in lower rates across minority populations, according to the statement.
"This correction to the data resulted in higher rates of testing and vaccination across all racial and ethnic minority populations, and also higher rates of cases, hospitalization, and deaths in these populations," health officials noted.
Before the change, American Indian/Alaska Natives appeared to have the lowest vaccination rates, but now they are "appropriately shown as having the highest rate of any racial/ethnic minority population."
The change came after meetings with minority focus groups over the past few weeks, officials said, and "presents a more accurate representation of how COVID-19 is impacting communities in Utah, and will better inform policy decisions aimed at addressing health disparities throughout the state."
The department has also updated its data dashboard with 2020 population estimates from the United States Census Bureau, as opposed to 2019 estimates, causing changes in data percentages.
One death was removed from the state's total Wednesday. The latest deaths include:
- A Piute County woman between the ages of 65 and 84, who was hospitalized when she died.
- A Utah County woman, 65-84, long-term care facility resident.
- A Uintah County man, 18-24, unknown if hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Rich County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Duchesne County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Box Elder County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County men, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Cache County woman, older than 85, hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, older than 85, hospitalized.