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US marks 500K COVID-19 deaths as Utah cases continue to drop

(Utah National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sean Conorich conducts COVID-19 rapid testing at the Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the United States tops 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19, Utah continues to see a drop in confirmed cases.

On Monday, America surpassed half a million lives lost to the virus and 1,853 of those deaths came from Utah. However, the spread of the virus seems to be slowing throughout the state.

On Monday the Utah Department of Health reported that 338 Utah residents had tested positive for COVID-19, one of the lowest daily case counts the state has seen in months.

Hospitalizations are down in Utah

Hospitalizations are also declining in Utah, freeing up much-needed space for other critical patients.

Currently, 237 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications in Utah, and 100 patients have been admitted into the intensive care unit.

Within the last few weeks, COVID-19 hospital stays have begun to steadily decline. Doctors working on the frontlines say they are happy to see the numbers dropping, but are remaining cautiously optimistic about the current scenario. 

Even as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths fall, doctors and public health officials say we aren’t in the clear yet–acknowledging there is still uncertainty about the coronavirus variants.

Additionally, officials note the use of masks, limited social gatherings and physical distancing is still the most important things Utahns can do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 

More than 600,000 Utah residents vaccinated 

State leaders, such as the governor, made it clear Utah is seeing good progress in the fight, especially as more vaccine doses become available. As of Monday, Utah has administered more than 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Among those vaccinated, Gov. Spencer Cox noted 91% of long-term care facility residents have received at least their first shot. Utahns who are 65 or older are now eligible to receive the vaccine as well. 

According to some infectious disease experts, Utah is already at 20% herd immunity

US passes 500k deaths

The milestone comes just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality from the coronavirus. The pandemic has since swept across the world and the U.S., stressing the nation’s health care system, rattling its economy and rewriting the rules of everyday society.

Confronting the grim milestone directly and publicly, President Biden is trying to strike a balance between gravity and hope regarding those who have died from the virus. 

Monday’s bleak threshold was playing out against contradictory crosscurrents: an encouraging drop in coronavirus cases and worries about the spread of more contagious variants.

A president whose own life has been marked by family tragedy, Biden ordered flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days as he prepared to lead a moment of communal mourning for those lost to a virus that often prevents people from gathering to remember their loved ones.

The COVID-19 death total in the United States had just crossed 400,000 when Biden took the oath of office. An additional 100,000 have died in the past month.

Contributing: Associated Press

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).
  • 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