SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported 3,919 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, beating the previous record for daily case increases by around 1,000. Health officials also reported nine more Utahns have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday, for a total of 687.
Out of 13,926 tests, the 3,919 people diagnosed with COVID-19 mean Utah’s one-day positivity rate was 28%. The rolling seven-day average of positive tests is 2,738, which is also a new high. The rolling seven-day average of percent positive lab tests reached 23.2%.
When the rate of positive cases is that high, doctors are certain there are far more infected people who are not showing symptoms and not being tested. Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health, told Utahns we all need to be wearing masks more, even if we think we’re currently doing it enough.
“I will tell you that our only hope for slowing the spread of COVID and protecting our hospitals is if each one of us is wearing masks way more than we’re doing now,” she said.
Dunn says there is clear evidence safety precautions, if done correctly, work very well. Researchers tested over 1,300 people involved in high school football championships, which include players, coaches, cheerleaders and drill teams. Out of all those tested, only 49 tests came back positive. That’s a positivity rate of only 3.6%, compared to over 23% across the rest of the state. Dunn says there are clear reasons why this is happening.
She said, “Kids participating in these programs are taking COVID precautions very seriously.”
Gov. Gary Herbert warned that when the state reaches around 490 cases that require hospitalization, our hospitals will struggle to keep up.
“That’s the benchmark that causes us concern. We have about 468 in there today,” he said.
The governor is also worried about police agencies that are refusing to enforce the statewide mask mandate. For instance, St. George News is reporting the Iron County Sheriff will not enforce the mandate, and two county commissioners won’t push to have it enforced. Governor Herbert says officials in Iron County claim they have plenty of beds in their ICUs, but, that’s partly due to so many acute patients being transferred to other hospitals.
“There won’t be room in Cedar City for people who have COVID-19 and other acute ailments in need of ICU beds,” Herbert said.
The governor says he was warned by Dr. Deborah Birx and CDC Director Robert Redfield last week not to be surprised if Utah reached 3,000 new cases per day.
He said, “Here we are, a week after that, that we’re at almost 4,000 cases in a single day. That’s a rate of infection that really is stunning.”
Gov Herbert: a vaccine is coming to Utah
During the COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Herbert stated he hopes a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready to distribute to Utahns very soon.
“I believe in the next 4 to 5 weeks a vaccine will be ready to distribute,” said Herbert. He said frontline health workers and Utah’s most vulnerable will be among the very first to receive the vaccine.
Gov. Herbert said he believes the vaccine will be widely available to Utahns in March or April. But he pleads with residents to abided by mandates in place for the next two weeks.
“Over the next two weeks, I plead with you to be patient. It takes at least two weeks before we can see any effect from these plans on our trends,” said Herbert.
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.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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