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Utah Dept. of Health: ‘We are still in this battle,’ COVID cases increase

The Utah Department of Health is urging residents to continue with diligence in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as Utah reports 4,672 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. (Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health is urging residents to continue with diligence in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as Utah reported 4,672 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

With 11,412 people tested since Wednesday, the daily testing positive rate sits at roughly 40%. 

Although testing numbers are down, infections are still rising through community spread, according to Department of Health spokesperson Jenny Johnson. That’s especially prevalent during holidays. 

“We’ve seen this on summer holidays and Thanksgiving and Labor Day,” Johnson said. “All the holidays, our testing numbers go down. People are either choosing not to get tested around that time or they’re traveling.”

Utah COVID cases increasing

UDOH said the surge may be a result from post-holiday transmissions, warning Utahns to remain diligent — especially as schools begin reopening next week. However, it’s too soon to know if it will be a long-term trend. 

“It’s really hard to know with one day if this is a sign that we’re going to have a big surge after Christmas,” Johnson said. “It’s not looking good.”

To avoid that surge, Johnson said Utahns need to make necessary sacrifices by avoiding New Year’s parties. 

“If you traveled over the holidays or visited with people outside of your own household, assume that you may have been exposed and please limit your interactions with others,” the health department said in a statement. “Get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild.”

UDOH reported 13 new deaths, with seven of those patients hospitalized at death.

Vaccine: Hope of brighter days ahead

Health officials say they’ve administered more than 30,000 vaccines throughout the state of Utah so far, as vaccination programs will begin “speeding up at the start of 2021.”

“The vaccine has brought hope of brighter days ahead but until every Utahn has the chance to be immunized, we must continue to make small sacrifices now,” the department said in a statement. “Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth anytime you are in public or around someone you don’t live with. Physical distance as much as possible. Only gather with the people you live with. Wash your hands often. And stay home if you are sick, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19.”

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.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • 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).
  • Obtain 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

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