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A record 603 Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19; Romney anxious to take vaccine

Woods Cross High School basketball coach Jeff Jorgensen is tested for COVID-19 at the school in Woods Cross on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. A state public health order requires that high schools verify that each participant in athletic and extracurricular activities receive a COVID-19 test before taking part in the activity.
Woods Cross High School basketball coach Jeff Jorgensen is tested for COVID-19 at the school in Woods Cross on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. A state public health order requires that high schools verify that each participant in athletic and extracurricular activities receive a COVID-19 test before taking part in the activity.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported Saturday that 603 Utahns were currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — a record number since the pandemic began.

Another 3,674 new coronavirus cases were also reported, as well as 14 additional deaths.

As the Beehive State continues to see a surge both in cases and hospitalizations, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said he can’t wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I will get the vaccine as soon as I can get it,” he told the Deseret News Friday.

Given the fact that he and his wife, Ann, are over 70, the 73-year-old Republican said they will probably be in one of the early groups to receive the shot. But he said he’s not aware that members of Congress would get the vaccine any faster than other Americans.

“We don’t have any special line that we’re in. We’re in the same line as everybody else,” Romney said, adding he will get the vaccine in Utah when his doctors tell him he qualifies to receive it.

“I can tell you, I can’t wait to get it. I’m looking forward to getting rid of my masks. I’m looking forward to being able to fly without wearing a helmet,” he said.

Romney flies wearing a full face “super mask” made by Provo-based MicroClimate. The fabric scarf with a plastic face shield is equipped with HEPA filters and two high-powered fans to keep the air inside fresh.

Romney said he’s also looking forward to being with his grandchildren. He said one of his son’s children have all had COVID-19 and he has been able to get together with them. He said he sees his other grandchildren outside wearing masks and social distancing.

This week, Utah health officials urged residents not to gather for upcoming holiday celebrations. Effects of Thanksgiving on the state’s numbers have yet to fully be seen, officials said.

New cases, deaths

Saturday’s cases were confirmed out of 14,838 people tested, with a 24.8% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 2,958 per day, and the average positive test rate is 25.5%.

Intensive care units across the state were 88.9% full overall, and referral ICUs that can treat serious cases were 92.7% full.

The deaths reported Saturday bring the state’s toll to 939.

In Salt Lake County, the deaths included: four women between 65 and 84, two of whom were hospitalized and two who were long-term care residents; a woman older than 85 who was also a long-term care resident; and a man older than 85 and a man between 65 and 84, who were long-term care residents.

The deaths in Utah County were two women between 65 and 84, one woman older than 85, a man between 45 and 64, and a man older than 85, all of whom were long-term care residents.

A Washington County woman between 65 and 84 died while hospitalized. A Weber County woman between 65 and 84, who was a long-term care resident, also died.

To date, 212,844 cases have been confirmed out of 1,485,811 people tested since the pandemic began, with a positive rate of 14.3%. About 150,000 cases are estimated recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses. Nearly 8,800 cases have required hospitalization for the disease in Utah since the pandemic began.