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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials confirmed 2,297 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths on Wednesday.
The rolling, seven-day average for new cases is 1,204 per day, and the positive rate of those tested is 14.3%, the Utah Department of Health said in it's daily update.
School-age children represented 444 of the new cases — 226 were ages 5-10, 102 were 11-13, and 116 were 14-17, health officials said.
Health care workers administered 18,668 vaccine doses since the previous day's report, bringing total doses given in Utah to 4,155,655.
Since vaccines became available, 48,321 cases in Utah have been confirmed as breakthrough, meaning the patient had been vaccinated more than two weeks before they tested positive for COVID-19. The state has also confirmed 299 breakthrough deaths, which is about 6% of the total deaths caused by the coronavirus in Utah.
In the last 28 days, unvaccinated residents have seen 12.7 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 9.7 times greater risk of hospitalization, and 3.7 times greater risk of testing positive for the disease than vaccinated people, the health department said.
Since Feb. 1, unvaccinated residents have experienced 6.6 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, 5.7 times greater risk of hospitalization, and 2.6 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to the data.
Utah has seen a total of 598,098 cases since the pandemic began in spring of 2020, as well as 3,545 deaths due to the disease.
Intermountain to study ventilators
Intermountain Healthcare officials announced Wednesday that researchers at the hospital system were awarded $4.6 million from the National Institutes of Health, to study ventilator protocols in patients with COVID-19, as well as other serious patients in the intensive care unit.
The researchers will study the best ways to determine when ICU patients should be taken off ventilators and resume breathing without the use of a ventilator.
Officials noted that ventilators save lives for those whose lungs aren't strong enough to breathe on their own, but they carry risks of infection, lung damage, pneumonia and other issues.
"We know how to test if patients can breathe on their own, but that requires coordination from multiple members of the care team, who are all stretched thin right now given the high number of COVID-19 patients in our ICUs," Dr. Colin K. Grissom, senior medical director of critical care for Intermountain Healthcare and co-principal Investigator of the grant, said in a statement.
"Through our already established telehealth platform and giving real time feedback on meeting those care standards, we know we can reduce the time patients are on ventilators. This grant will help us study the best way to do that," he said.
As part of the protocol for taking patients off ventilators, doctors decide when they need to continue providing ventilation to a patient by what's called a spontaneous awakening trial, when they stop sedation, and a spontaneous breathing trial. During that process, doctors test the patient's ability to breath with little or no assistance, officials said.
The process requires multiple critical care team members to make sure the care is done safely. The Society of Critical Care Medicine recommends the trials take place every morning for patients who pass an initial safety screen. Officials said that when it's done successfully, the protocol can reduce days spent on a ventilator and even in the hospital.
Intermountain Healthcare researchers previously began using a protocol in three intensive care units that they say "improved adherence to lung protective mechanical ventilation best practices to more than 90%."
With the protocol, critical care doctors, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners and nurses monitor patients remotely to decide if they are ready for the spontaneous awakening trial and spontaneous breathing trial. Those specialists then "nudge" the onsite care team to prepare to perform those trials if they haven't done so already.
The hospital system wants to use the protocol it developed to improve its performance in taking patients off ventilation safely, Grissom said.
"Then in real time, versus through monthly or weekly reports, the hospital and ICU can see how they are doing in meeting the standard of care," officials said in the statement.
The grant will run through August 2026 and is meant to help the system implement its strategies for taking patients off ventilators in 14 hospitals.
The deaths confirms Wednesday included eight that occurred before November. The newly-reported deaths were:
- Two Millard County men between the ages of 65-84, who were hospitalized when they died.
- An Iron County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Millard County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, unknown if hospitalized.
- An Iron County woman, 45-64, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
- An Iron County man, 25-44, not hospitalized.
- A Washington County man, 25-44, hospitalized.
- A Weber County woman, 25-44, hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Tooele County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Davis County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- An Iron County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Weber County man, older than 85, not hospitalized.