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32 COVID deaths reported Tuesday; U. clinic seeing 800 long-hauler patients

Von Satter registers for his COVID-19 test on Jan. 31 at the University of Utah testing site. The Utah Department of Health reported another 1,341 COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths on Tuesday.

Von Satter registers for his COVID-19 test on Jan. 31 at the University of Utah testing site. The Utah Department of Health reported another 1,341 COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths on Tuesday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health reported another 1,341 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 32 deaths, leading to a death toll of 4,223 deaths in Utah since 2020.

It is the highest number of deaths reported in a single day at any time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This large figure illustrates the need to remain vigilant in protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and boosted," the health department said in a statement.

Deaths are not necessarily reported on the day that they occur, and the Utah Department of Health said that each of these deaths occurred sometime in the last 30 days.

The highest number of deaths reported in a single day was on Nov. 24, 2020 when there were 26 COVID-19 deaths. The day with the most reported deaths in 2022, at this point, is Jan. 21 with 17.

The current seven-day-average number of deaths from COVID-19 is 5.6 per day, although that number is likely to go up as more deaths in the past few days are reported.

Long-hauler clinic

Physicians working at the University of Utah's COVID-19 Long-Hauler Clinic report there are still a lot of things that they don't know regarding why certain symptoms linger longer in some individuals.

Dr. Jeanette Brown, a pulmonologist and medical director at the clinic, said there are five to 10 referrals to the clinic each day. There are currently almost 600 patients and another 200 are in the process of being scheduled. For a person to be considered a "long-hauler," the World Health Organization has determined COVID-19 symptoms must last more than three months after the initial infection.

As more people throughout Utah contract COVID-19, there will likely be more instances of people whose symptoms last longer, Brown said, adding that the clinic has experienced an uptick in incoming patients during the omicron variant surge.

Dr. Rachel Hess, chief of the Division of Health System Innovation and Research at U. Health, said the clinic is beginning to study long-term COVID-19 symptoms in order to find out how or why it develops in certain people. It started enrolling people in Utah for the study in January, while the first enrollment in the study nationwide was in December.

There are not currently any findings from this study to share, but Hess said they are hoping to have a diverse population enrolled so that researchers can gain a more complete understanding.

Hess said clinicians are taking steps to ensure that the population of people being studied are as diverse as the Utah population, the research team includes native Spanish speakers and they have budgeted to allow people coming to Salt Lake City from rural areas of the state to stay in the city overnight if needed.

"We've been really lucky at the University of Utah to be able to participate in that research, from the basic biochemical studies through these in-person studies that allow us to understand both the COVID process and the long-COVID process a lot better than we did when this pandemic started," Hess said.

Although studies have been able to determine some predictors for whether a person will have long-term symptoms from COVID-19, those are still being verified. One such study predicted with a 75% accuracy which individuals would have long-term symptoms.

Primarily, Hess and other researchers are trying to find ways to prevent long-term COVID-19 symptoms and identify treatments to either improve the quality of life of those who still struggle with symptoms, or to find restorative treatments.

One thing that is known about long-term symptoms is that they can vary significantly person-to-person. Brown said the clinic has placed about 1,300 referrals to about 35 different specialties within the U. The average patient gets about three different referrals.

Common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, significant variations in heart rate and blood pressure and headaches, according to Brown. These symptoms are often severe enough to impact daily life. Less common symptoms include eye issues, hair loss and ringing in the ears.

Brown also said that it is normal for the symptoms to wax and wane, and for exertion one day to lead to more severe symptoms for the next several hours or days. There are some patterns for recovery in patients whose symptoms affect the same organ systems, but overall, some people are sick for weeks or months and other illnesses have continued to persist even longer.

"I think the key thing for our clinic is we want folks to understand that we're here to support them, you know, throughout that journey and to get them access to care," Brown said.

She said that the clinic prioritizes hearing and validating patient concerns, but also said that it is important to remember there are other issues besides "long-COVID" that can cause some of the same symptoms, and they have found other health concerns from people who came in with concerns about long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

The community of people dealing with long-term symptoms are the focus of study design, Brown said.

"They're sort of the ones leading the way and telling us the symptoms that they're experiencing and I really appreciated working with these patients, as well, because they're very altruistic," she said. "Many of them have said, 'Well even if this doesn't help me, I want to know that this is going to help someone else down the road.'"

Tuesday numbers

School children account for 224 of the 1,341 new cases reported on Tuesday. Of those cases, 117 were children between ages 5 and 10, 48 were 11-13, and 59 were 14-17.

The rolling, seven-day average for new positive tests is now 2,398 per day, which continues a downward trend. The seven-day average for positive tests is also declining and is now 35.7%.

Currently, 681 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the state, according to the health department. Of those patients, 165 are currently in intensive care.

Health officials report that 55% of hospital beds are now in use, as well as 80% of ICU beds and about 84% of ICU referral beds.

The 32 deaths reported on Tuesday include:

  • A Box Elder County man, over 85, who was hospitalized when he died.
  • A Cache County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Cache County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County woman, 25-44, resident of a long-term care facility.
  • A Davis County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Davis County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Duchesne County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Millard County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County men, 25-44, both hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County men, 25-44, unknown if hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 25-44, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 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 woman, 65-84, unknown if hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, unknown if hospitalized.
  • Two Summit County women, 65-84, both hospitalized.
  • A Uintah County, 45-64, not hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, over 85, hospitalized.
  • Four Washington County men, 65-84, all hospitalized.
  • A Weber County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Weber County woman, over 85, hospitalized.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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