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Utah health officials report 24,147 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, 20 additional deaths

Javanni Alzayyat administers a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on Dec. 15,
2021. Utah health officials reported 24,147 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 20 additional deaths.

Javanni Alzayyat administers a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on Dec. 15, 2021. Utah health officials reported 24,147 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 20 additional deaths. ( Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported 24,147 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, as well as 20 additional deaths.

A breakdown of each days' case counts:

  • Friday: 9,367
  • Saturday: 8,663
  • Sunday: 6,413

The rolling, seven-day average for new cases is now 7,768 per day, and the average positive rate of those tested has jumped to 31.4%, the Utah Department of Health said.

One of the deaths confirmed Monday was a Weber County teenager between ages 15 and 17, health officials said.

Hospitals remain busy

As cases continue to skyrocket in Utah, Dr. Todd Vento, infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said data shows about 90% of the latest cases in Utah are omicron.

Epidemiological data in other countries, especially in Europe, shows cases due to omicron are coming down from their peak, Vento said. That's also happening in eastern states such as New York and Washington, D.C., and experts anticipate that trend to continue westward.

Vento said Utah could see case counts begin to decrease in late January or early February.

As the community continues to see a significant rise in cases, that's also affecting health care workers as about 1,000 have reported infections over the past few days, Vento said. But that's not affecting business operation or health care delivery for now as the system is asking for volunteers to take other shifts.

The ICUs are facing "unrelenting" workloads, he said. "It's not looking at just the numbers, it's all of the things in the system that are actually affected," Vento said of the current COVID-19 surge.

While hospitalizations have not risen drastically in comparison to case counts, Vento said some effects on hospitals are hard to gauge.

So many people across the state face risk for severe COVID-19 cases and hospitalization that it's stressed outpatient staffing, according to the doctor. Outpatient providers need to help more people through monoclonal antibody therapy or antiviral medication, meaning more health care workers have needed to help out in that area.

"And so that's the effect that, I think, is hard to measure or appreciate by some," he said.

ICU levels are also beyond where the system would normally function, he said.

And the high case rates — a record near 10,000 on Friday — mean more hospitalizations. Vento said the next several weeks will likely overwhelm hospitals with increased urgent care needs.

New mask mandates such as those ordered in Salt Lake and Summit counties "should make a big difference, because we're going to have folks staying indoors," Vento said.

But regardless of whether it's required, all residents should wear masks in public settings because influenza is also spreading in the community, according to Vento.

Vaccination also remains the best way to fight the disease, the doctor said.

Although oral antiviral pills are available, fewer people are available to screen patients to see if the medication would help them, he said. The medication needs to be taken within five days of symptom onset, and it requires a doctor's prescription.

"And the reality is, we could avoid all of that if we could just have folks get vaccinated and boosted," he said, noting that the vaccines prevent severe disease in high numbers.

If people finish their booster series, "that would make a huge dent," he said.

New Utah data

School-age children accounted for 3,849 of the new weekend cases, as 1,210 cases were ages 5-10, 830 cases were ages 11-13, and 1,809 cases were ages 14-17.

The state also confirmed 10,502 more breakthrough cases — meaning they had been fully vaccinated more than two weeks before testing positive for COVID-19 — and five breakthrough deaths among the totals since Friday. Now 94,071 cases and 383 breakthrough deaths have been reported since vaccines became available.

Health care workers administered 30,818 vaccine doses since Friday's report, bringing total doses given in Utah to 4,648,322. Now 63.8% of residents ages 5 and older have received their original two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and 36.8% of residents have received a booster shot of any brand.

On Monday, 541 patients were hospitalized with the coronavirus, an increase of three since Friday.

Five of the deaths reported Monday occurred before December. The latest deaths include:

  • A Weber County male between the ages of 15 and 17, who was not hospitalized when he died.
  • A Carbon County man, 45-64, not hospitalized.
  • A Davis County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County man, 65-84, long-term care facility resident.
  • Two Davis County men, 65-84, both hospitalized.
  • A Piute County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
  • A Utah County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
  • A Washington County woman, 65-84, long-term care facility resident.
  • A Washington County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • Two Washington County men, 65-84, both hospitalized.
  • Two Washington County women, 65-84, both hospitalized.
  • A Weber County man, 45-64, hospitalized.

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