Seattle analysts project large fall wave of COVID-19 for Utah without masking, if restrictions ease
Utah reports 460 new COVID-19 cases, 5 additional deaths Friday
SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah continues to see a plateau in new COVID-19 cases, Seattle health analysts say the state is poised to see nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day without universal masking when a second wave hits in the fall, and twice that number if restrictions further ease.
On Friday, Utah health officials reported 460 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and five additional deaths.
The University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s modeling for the U.S. in the pandemic have become more dire, as nearly 1,300 deaths are now projected for Utah and 295,000 are projected for the U.S. by December.
Projections, however, come with a lot of unknowns as restrictions get put into place or are lifted, and as more data about the disease becomes known, researchers have said.
Utah officials have said throughout the pandemic they are using the University of Washington projection and others as they make decisions in the fight against the pandemic.
But those working on modeling at the University of Utah say they aren’t attempting to project as far as November, as projecting that many months out has thus far proved too difficult.
The new Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projection is considered the worst-case scenario as “starting today, if 95% of the people in the U.S. were to wear masks when leaving their homes, that total number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, a drop of 49%. And more than 66,000 lives would be saved,” researchers from the institute said Thursday in a statement.
“The public’s behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, institute director.
“Such efforts to act more cautiously and responsibly will be an important aspect of COVID-19 forecasting and the up-and-down patterns in individual states throughout the coming months and into next year,” he said.
The institute projects that without universal mask wearing and if restrictions ease in Utah, the state could see another wave of COVID-19 cases beginning in October and peaking in December, with more than 10,000 cases occurring a day by then.
But with most residents wearing masks, the institute says the state could see slower growth during a second wave, with under 1,000 daily cases occurring at a Dec. 1 peak.
The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 441 per day as of Friday, and the average positive tests is 9.5%.
As Utah continues to see lower testing numbers, Friday’s cases were confirmed out of 3,709 tests, for a positive rate of 12.4%, according to the Utah Department of Health. They bring the state’s total cases since the pandemic began to 43,375 of 559,100 people tested, a 7.6% rate.
Currently, 202 patients are hospitalized with the disease in Utah. The state’s intensive care units — which have about 600 beds overall — are 66% full with coronavirus patients and others, while other hospital beds are 56.7% full.
The deaths reported Friday bring the state’s toll to 335. They were:
- A Salt Lake County man, older than 85, who was a long-term care resident.
- A Salt Lake County man, between the ages of 65 and 84, who was a long-term care resident.
- A Salt Lake County man, between 65-84, who was hospitalized when he died.
- A Davis County woman, older than 85, who was a long-term care resident.
- A Davis County man, 65-84, who was a long-term care resident.
More than 32,000 of the state’s cases are considered recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses.
The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district:
- Salt Lake County, 20,287; 1,329 hospitalized; 189 deaths.
- Utah County, 8,536; 389 hospitalized; 37 deaths.
- Davis County, 3,156; 178 hospitalized; 21 deaths.
- Southwest Utah, 3,167; 178 hospitalized; 25 deaths.
- Weber-Morgan, 2,773; 174 hospitalized; 25 deaths.
- Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 2,275; 104 hospitalized; 6 deaths.
- Summit County, 706; 53 hospitalized; 1 death.
- San Juan County, 648; 83 hospitalized; 25 deaths.
- Tooele County, 579; 29 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Wasatch County, 552; 21 hospitalized; 4 deaths.
- Central Utah, 415; 25 hospitalized; 2 deaths.
- TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 175; 10 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Southeast Utah, 106; 5 hospitalized; 0 deaths.