Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported a record new COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday, with an astounding 7,247 cases and 44 deaths.
"Today represents, by far, the single highest daily case count we have seen during the pandemic. Omicron has changed the landscape since its arrival last month. The number of cases we are reporting today is more than the total number of cases we reported over the first 68 days of the pandemic, combined," the Utah Department of Health said in a statement.
The previous record for cases reported in one day in Utah was just over 4,700 in late December of 2020.
The rolling, seven-day average for new cases is now 4,317 per day, and the average positive rate of those tested is 22.9%.
State epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen said she was not surprised by the high case count due to the path the state has been on for the past several days as the omicron variant has multiplied. She also said the case count is likely an "undercount," as many residents are testing at home. Those tests aren't required to be reported to the state.
"I expect it's going to increase for a while longer, so unfortunately today's numbers were not a surprise," she said.
Throughout the state, testing locations over the past several days have grappled with long lines, prompting workers to offer at-home tests to those who wait. Nolen said Utah has ordered more tests, but for now has the capacity to test those who need it.
But whether or not someone is able to get tested, Nolen said, if they have symptoms they need to assume they have omicron and stay away from others.
In a prepared statement, Nolen urged those who have "for whatever reason ... been putting off vaccination or getting boosted" to do so now.
"Vaccinations and boosters have been shown to reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths. They are the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community," Nolen said.
"Our hospitals are already stretched well beyond their capacity and are canceling procedures. Please, go get your shot! Think about your plans and minimize your exposure to others and when you can't, put on that mask!" she added.
While case counts provide insight into trends, Nolen said it's more important to focus on hospitalizations. On Wednesday, 495 patients across the state were hospitalized with COVID-19 — an increase of 16 since the previous day and 53 since the previous Wednesday, Dec. 29.
School-age children accounted for 973 of the new cases — 361 cases were ages 5-10, 193 cases were ages 11-13, and 419 cases were ages 14-17.
Breakthrough cases among those fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier accounted for 3,172 of the new cases. Twenty of the deaths reported Wednesday were also breakthrough, according to state health department data. Now 75,503 breakthrough cases and 373 breakthrough deaths have been confirmed in Utah since vaccines became available.
Utah has confirmed a total of 663,654 COVID-19 cases and 3,855 deaths due to the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.
Commenting on the high death count Wednesday, Nolen noted that it takes time for deaths to be verified as being caused by the coronavirus. The count was "dramatically" high due to one health district reporting many of its confirmed deaths. She does not believe the omicron variant has caused deaths in the state so far.
Health officials noted that 23 of the deaths reported Wednesday occurred before December and were confirmed to be caused by the coronavirus after investigation. The deaths include:
- Five Salt Lake County men older than 85, who were long-term care facility residents.
- Four Salt Lake County men, older than 85, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, older than 85, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, older than 85, unknown if hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, long-term care facility resident.
- Three Salt Lake County men, 45-64, unknown if hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, not hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County men, 45-64, both hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County man, 25-44, hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County women, 65-84, both hospitalized.
- Two Salt Lake County women, 65-84, long-term care facility residents.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, not hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
- Three Salt Lake County women, 45-64, unknown if hospitalized.
- A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, not hospitalized.
- Three Salt Lake County women, older than 85, all long-term care facility residents.
- Two Salt Lake County women, 25-44, hospitalized.
- A Davis County woman, 25-44, hospitalized.
- A Davis County man, 65-84, hospitalized
- Two Utah County men, 25-44, both hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Utah County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
- A Utah County man, 65-84, long-term care facility resident.
- A Tooele County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
- A Weber County man, 65-84, hospitalized.