Utah’s current COVID-19 hospitalizations rise; 578 positive tests confirmed on Saturday
Summit County reports dozens of calls to clarify new mask rule, tell on non-wearers
SALT LAKE CITY — The same day Salt Lake and Summit counties mandated masks, Utah again confirmed a high number of new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 578 positive tests.
And Summit County officials say they fielded calls in the dozens by residents looking for clarification on the requirement, and complaints about people not wearing masks.
The Beehive State’s daily record occurred on Friday, when 676 new cases were confirmed.
Saturday brought the state 44 new hospitalizations with the novel coronavirus. The total coronavirus patients currently in Utah’s hospitals rose from 171 on Friday to 189 Saturday.
Seventy-seven COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units, which are running at 62.4% capacity. Non-intensive care units are 53.6% full, according to Utah Department of Health data. Of the state’s 1,297 ventilators, 205 are in use by coronavirus and other patients.
Utah also recorded an additional death with COVID-19, a San Juan County woman older than 85 who died while hospitalized. She brings the toll to 167.
Saturday’s cases were confirmed as 5,234 tests results were reported, of which there was an 11% positive rate. They bring the state’s cases since the pandemic began to 20,628 out of 322,802 tested, with an overall positive rate of 6.4%.
Just under 11,700 are now considered recovered from the disease after passing the three-week point since their diagnoses.
As Summit County’s mask requirement went into effect, the county health department ran a “concerns line” throughout the day until mid-afternoon, and will do so again on Sunday between noon and 3 p.m. Those with questions can call 435-333-0050.
The line on Saturday received 32 calls from residents asking for clarification about the requirement, said Krachel Fullmer, county spokeswoman. County dispatch and 911 also received calls about the mandate. Fullmer said the tone of the calls was generally polite.
“The hotline also received a fair amount of complaints about people not wearing face coverings either in groups outside — or inside particular stores/businesses,” Fullmer said.
Like Salt Lake County, Summit is requiring masks at public indoor gathering spaces, both indoor and outdoor. Exemptions include children under age 2; those with mental or physical conditions that make them unable to wear face coverings; those who are hearing impaired or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired; and those whose work would make them unable to wear masks; and those who are eating.
The Utah Transit Authority also announced Saturday all riders and employees in Salt Lake and Summit counties are now required to wear face masks on public transportation. The transit authority is offering masks to those who don’t have them at customer service locations and soon on transit vehicles, officials said in a statement.
Meanwhile, riders and employees throughout the whole UTA system will be required to wear masks beginning July 1. Additional information can be found at rideuta.com/health.
Long-term care outbreaks
On Saturday, the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs announced that 13 residents of the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home have died since the facility reported an outbreak in late May. Nineteen residents, meanwhile, have recovered.
William E. Christoffersen — the veteran and advocate for whom the facility is named — died of COVID-19 in early June. He was also a resident in the facility.
“This pandemic has been extraordinarily challenging and difficult for the residents, families and staff at our four state veterans homes. In particular, our Salt Lake Veterans Home community has been hard hit,” Gary Harter, executive director of the department, said in a statement.
He urged Utahns “to continue to follow public health guidelines to help limit the spread of this virus. The best way for Utahns to thank our veterans for their service is to practice social distancing, stay home if you are feeling sick, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask when appropriate.”
The Salt Lake Veterans Home is one of 197 long-term care facilities that have been impacted by the pandemic. More than 500 residents and nearly as many health care workers have tested positive, and 71 residents have died, according to state health department data.
Nine facilities continue to face outbreaks with five or more cases, most of which are in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district:
- Salt Lake County, 10,417; 759 hospitalized; 106 deaths.
- Utah County, 3,751; 187 hospitalized; 22 deaths.
- Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 1,454; 49 hospitalized; 2 deaths.
- Southwest Utah, 1,361; 93 hospitalized; 10 deaths.
- Davis County, 1,080; 75 hospitalized; 4 deaths.
- Weber-Morgan, 846; 62 hospitalized; 12 deaths.
- Summit County, 482; 45 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- San Juan County, 399; 49 hospitalized; 8 deaths.
- Wasatch County, 399; 21 hospitalized; 3 deaths.
- Tooele County, 225; 12 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Central Utah, 134; 9 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 46; 3 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Southeast Utah, 34; 1 hospitalized; 0 deaths.