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Calling Utah one of world’s ‘worst hot spots,’ governor pleads for compliance

SHARE Calling Utah one of world’s ‘worst hot spots,’ governor pleads for compliance

Phlebotomist David Sagae checks a vial of saliva at an Intermountain Healthcare COVID-19 mobile testing site outside of Orem Community Hospital in Orem on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah for the seventh day in a row confirmed more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gary Herbert warned that the state will continue to be one of the world’s “worst hot spots” of the disease if residents don’t follow health guidelines.

“I have tremendous faith in our ability as Utahns to make the right decisions to keep each other safe — and keep our schools and businesses open,” Herbert said in a statement Tuesday.

“The hard truth is that we have learned COVID-19 spreads most often in places where we are most comfortable — at informal gatherings with our family and close friends. By obeying restrictions, we will see fewer infections, maintain our lower mortality rate, help our overwhelmed doctors and nurses save lives, and prevent the long-term health implications some face after contracting COVID-19,” Herbert said.


Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

“If we don’t make use of this guidance, Utah will continue to be one of the worst hot spots in the world. But we have stemmed the tide of infection before and we will do it again now,” he said.

As Utah’s hospitalizations reached record levels this month, nearly 1,400 more health care workers have tested positive for the new coronavirus and dozens have required hospitalization within the last two weeks, according to state health department data.

To date, 7,086 health care workers have tested positive and 215 have required hospitalization, according to health officials. The data includes anyone who works in a health care setting, as well as those who interact with patients, including firefighters, dentists, physical therapists and those in other technical occupations.

About 18% of the state’s total health care worker cases have been confirmed since Oct. 5, when the state had seen 5,709 health care worker cases and 179 hospitalizations.

Another health care worker has also died of the disease, bringing the total number of deaths in Utah’s health care community to five.

Currently, 291 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, which is three more than were hospitalized on Monday. Total intensive care unit usage remained just below 70% on Tuesday at 69.2%, and non-ICU use fell slightly to 46.1%.

Meanwhile, hospital officials continue to describe the mental and emotional toll that the pandemic is causing for providers.

On Tuesday, Intermountain Healthcare announced a new public service campaign that officials say “goes behind the closed doors of its intensive care units to help the public better understand the human toll and impact that rising cases of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are having on exhausted caregivers and patients.” The campaign will begin airing on local networks and across social media on Wednesday.

New cases

Utah health officials reported 1,081 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Tuesday.

The cases were confirmed out of 5,765 tests, with an 18.8% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 1,251 per day, and the average positive test rate is 14.8%.

Tuesday marked the seventh day in a row with more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Utah.

The deaths reported Tuesday bring the state’s toll to 551. They were: a San Juan County man between 65 and 84; a Utah County woman older than 85, who was a long-term care resident; a Salt Lake County man older than 85; a Salt Lake County woman older than 85 who was hospitalized when she died; and a Cache County man between 45 and 64 who was also hospitalized when he died.

Now 96,643 cases have been confirmed out of 986,424 people tested in Utah since the pandemic began, with an overall positive rate of 9.8%. Nearly 71,700 of the state’s cases are considered recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses.

Hospitalizations since the outbreak hit Utah total 4,753. 

New COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday by health district:

  • Salt Lake County, 452.
  • Utah County, 238.
  • Weber-Morgan, 116.
  • Davis County, 105.
  • Southwest Utah, 47.
  • Bear River, 46.
  • Tooele County, 17.
  • TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 15.
  • Summit County, 11.
  • Southeast Utah, 11.
  • San Juan County, 10.
  • Wasatch County, 8.
  • Central Utah, 5.