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Utah COVID surge: 14,754 new cases over New Year's weekend

Tristin Torkelson, an EMT with Salt Lake County, gives Luis Crespin a COVID-19 vaccination at a Salt Lake County Health
Department mobile site at Tejeda’s Market in Salt Lake City on Dec. 29. Utah health officials reported 14,754 new COVID-19 cases since Thursday over the New Year weekend.

Tristin Torkelson, an EMT with Salt Lake County, gives Luis Crespin a COVID-19 vaccination at a Salt Lake County Health Department mobile site at Tejeda’s Market in Salt Lake City on Dec. 29. Utah health officials reported 14,754 new COVID-19 cases since Thursday over the New Year weekend. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported 14,754 new COVID-19 cases since Thursday over the New Year's weekend, as well as 17 deaths.

A breakdown of cases each day:

  • Thursday: 4,659
  • Friday: 3,799
  • Saturday: 3,267
  • Sunday: 3,123

Thursday marked the first day since Jan 6, 2021, in Utah when cases surpassed 4,600. The previous record was 4,706 cases on Dec. 30, 2020.

The rolling seven-day average for new cases has now jumped to 3,346 per day — an increase of nearly 1,500 since Thursday — and the average positive test rate of those tested is 18.6%, the Utah Department of Health said.

Health department changes isolation guidelines

Also on Monday, the state health department updated its quarantine and isolation guidelines in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's decision to reduce isolation time to five days for those who test positive for COVID-19, and to wear a mask for five days after their isolation when around others.

Utah now recommends those same time lengths for most residents.

"We've worked with many different groups this week to review the changes CDC recommended. Together with the governor's office, state and local public health leaders, health care leaders and education officials we worked to make a plan that will work best for Utah," said Dr. Leisha Nolen, state epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health, in a statement.

"These guidelines are effective immediately for schools, businesses and community members. Additional guidelines for health care workers, immunocompromised people, and those who work or live in a congregate setting, like a prison or long-term care facility, are forthcoming."

Those who get exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for a length of time dependent on their age and whether they are up-to-date with their vaccinations, the department said. Those who get exposed should also get tested after five days, and wear a mask around others.

  • Those ages 18 and older who had their booster dose or got their original doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months don't need to quarantine at home. Those who had the original dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine within the last two months also don't need to quarantine at home.

"These individuals can continue to go to work and participate in activities; however, they should wear a mask for the 10 days after their exposure," the health department said.

  • Those ages 18 and younger who are up-to-date on their vaccines (with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine) don't need to quarantine at home. But they should also wear a mask for 10 days after their exposure.
  • Those of all ages who are unvaccinated, have not received a booster dose, or are not recently vaccinated should quarantine at home for five days from the time they were exposed. The quarantine can then end if they do not have symptoms after five days.

"They should wear a mask around others for the five days after they end quarantine at home. Students may attend school so long as they wear a mask at school for the 10 days after their exposure," according to the statement.

However, Jeff Haney, spokesman for the Canyons School District, noted that state law prohibits school districts from having mask mandates.

Additional Utah data

Across the state, 52,431 people were tested for the novel coronavirus since Thursday.

Health care workers administered 23,327 vaccine doses, bringing total doses given in Utah to 4,564,620. That includes booster shots. Now 63.3% of residents ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated with their first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the original dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, while 34.5% of residents have received a booster dose, according to the state health department.

Of the cases confirmed since Thursday, 6,532 were "breakthrough," among those who had been fully vaccinated more than two weeks before testing positive for the disease. One additional death was also breakthrough. Now Utah has reported 70,059 breakthrough cases and 352 breakthrough deaths since vaccines became available.

Overall, Utah has confirmed 651,746 COVID-19 cases and 3,804 deaths caused by the disease since the pandemic began in spring of 2019.

On Monday, 466 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout Utah, an increase of 36 since the previous Monday, Dec. 27.

The latest deaths included:

  • A Box Elder County woman, between the ages of 45 and 64, who was hospitalized when she died.
  • A Davis County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County man, 45-64, unknown hospitalization status.
  • A Juab County men, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Kane County man, 65-84, unknown hospitalization status.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A San Juan County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, older than 85, hospitalized.
  • A Utah County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • Two Washington County men, 45-64, both hospitalized.
  • A Washington County man, older than 85, hospitalized.
  • Two Weber County men, 65-84, both hospitalized
  • Two Weber County women, 65-84, unknown hospitalization statuses.

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