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Utah sets COVID-19 records for single day and rolling average increases

FILE: State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn, left, and ASL interpreter Trenton Marsh, upper right, during a daily COVID-19 briefing. (Credit: KSL TV, April 16, 2020)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders urged Utahns to do their part to combat COVID-19 as Utah hit a new peak for COVID-19 cases, both in terms of a single-day increase and the rolling 7-day average. 

“We need to take immediate action to prevent unnecessarily illnesses and deaths in the state,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist. 

Follow the governor’s remarks live below on the KSL NewsRadio live stream.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted a warning about case counts ahead of Dunn’s comments. 

“Today is going to be another terrible day for case number across our state,” Cox tweeted. “Hospitalizations and death will inevitably follow. More information will be coming, but we need everyone to redouble our efforts.”

New records for COVID-19 in Utah

Dr. Dunn announced the state recorded 911 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the largest single-day increase to date for Utah. 

Perhaps more concerning to Dunn and other health officials, the state’s rolling 7-day average for positive tests reached 661 per day, roughly double what it was a week ago. The rolling 7-day average for percent positive laboratory tests also reached a new high of 11.9%. It took just one week to reach that surge, she noted, when the state’s previous surge in July took place over the course of six weeks. 

Dunn pointed to Utah County as a point of concern. The county makes up 40% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases, Dunn said, even though it only accounts for 20% of the total population of Utah. 

Emergency meeting on COVID-19 in Utah

Herbert said he had attended an emergency meeting just before speaking publicly, to learn more about the reason for the increase in COVID-19 cases in Utah. 

“We don’t want to overreact, but we certainly don’t want to under-react,” Herbert said. 

Herbert said he is alarmed by the fact that the case counts are growing, the reasons for the increase, and the potential for increased hospitalizations and deaths. 

He also expressed concern over the numbers of people who ignore the recommendations of health officials to practice social distancing, wear masks, and stay home when they’re sick. 

“I trust the local medical advice that we get here from really smart people,” Herbert said. “This is really about, ‘How can we in fact protect others?'” 

Herbert said state officials would be proactive in looking to curb the spread, promising to announce more information soon. 

The other numbers 

Hospitalizations and deaths have not crept up in spite of the current uptick, but Dunn and Herbert both warned those numbers tend to lag behind case count increases. 

“This is a lagging indicator. Our hospitalization rates have stayed pretty constant, but the worry is what’s going to happen in the next two to three weeks,” Herbert said. 

State officials say 120 people currently remain hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment in Utah. To date, the pandemic resulted in 3,401 Utah hospitalizations. 

Utah did not record any new deaths on Thursday, leaving the total blamed on coronavirus so far at 437. 

Herbert urged Utahns to wear masks. 

“I’m going to wear the mask to protect you,” he said. “You wear the mask to protect me.” 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States