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Utah AG tests positive for COVID-19 as state confirms over 3K new cases since Friday

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks during a debate on Oct. 21, 2020. Reyes has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Monday.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks during a debate on Oct. 21, 2020. Reyes has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Monday. ( Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office announced he has tested positive for COVID-19.

"Despite being fully vaccinated, Attorney General Sean Reyes was surprised to learn he has tested positive for COVID last week. He had been fighting a cold and had tested negative days earlier. He is following all the necessary steps to quarantine from his family and to keep the public safe," a spokesman for Reyes said in a statement.

The attorney general's family members have all tested negative, according to the statement.

Reyes is the second public official to confirm a COVID-19 infection in the past week. Late last week, Utah House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, also announced he has the virus.

Schultz attended interim meetings at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Later that evening he began experiencing symptoms and received a positive test result, a House spokeswoman said on Friday.

Reyes tested positive on Monday, Nov. 15, before the special session of the Legislature began the following day, according to his spokesman Rich Piatt.

Thanking health care workers

Utah leaders and hospital officials from across the state joined Monday to launch a new campaign aimed at showing health care workers gratitude for their work during the pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Deidre M. Henderson, Utah Department of Health, Utah Hospital Association, Utah Health Care Association, and leaders from the state's major health systems met to share a new TV commercial that shows workers reacting to letters of thanks.

Henderson noted that thousands of workers "have battled so tirelessly over the past almost two years now."

"And they still watch their patients die terrible and often lonely deaths," Henderson said.

Those who created the campaign went to more than two dozen hospitals to deliver letters to caregivers. In the emotional video shared Monday, workers become apparently tearful as they read them.

"It's nice to know that we can make a difference," one woman says in the video.

Another woman explained that she and others often go home at the end of the day and wonder if they made a difference. She said receiving thanks helps them know that they do.

"It makes you feel seen," another worker said.

Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonary care physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said Monday the campaign will help health care workers feel "just the emotional support of somebody who knows what it's like to just be there and share those experiences is incredible."

Leaders asked residents during this week of Thanksgiving to show gratitude to health care workers, especially nurses.

New Utah data

Also Monday, Utah health officials confirmed 3,829 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths since Friday. The state confirmed the following breakdown of cases:

  • Friday: 1,578
  • Saturday: 1,231
  • Sunday: 1,051

School-age children represented 856 of the cases — 469 were ages 5-10, 189 were 11-13, and 198 were 14-17.

The rolling, seven-day average for new cases is 1,539 per day, and the positive rate of those tested is 16.8%, the Utah Department of Health said in a daily update.

Health care workers administered 37,039 vaccine doses since Friday, including booster shots, bringing the total doses given in Utah to 4,045,450 since vaccines became available in December of last year.

Of the cases confirmed since Friday, 1,076 were "breakthrough," meaning they had been fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. Three of the deaths were also breakthrough cases. Now, 38,772 cases and 236 deaths in Utah have been confirmed as breakthrough, which is about 7% of the total number in both regards.

In the last 28 days, unvaccinated residents have faced 16.4 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 9.9 times greater risk of hospitalization, and 4.3 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people, the state health department said.

Since Feb. 1, the health department estimates that people who are unvaccinated are at eight times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 6.6 times greater risk of hospitalization, and 3.1 times greater risk of testing for the disease than those who are vaccinated, according to the data.

The latest deaths include:

  • A Salt Lake County woman between the ages of 45 and 64, who was hospitalized when she died.
  • A Utah County man, 25-44, hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County men, older than 85, hospitalized.
  • A Weber County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County men, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Box Elder County woman, 65-84, hospitalized
  • A Box Elder County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • Two Washington County men, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Sevier County man, older than 85, not hospitalized.
  • A Washington County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County man, 25-44, not hospitalized.

Contributing: Tamara Vaifanua

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