National Guard sends 50 to Utah care facilities as officials report 20 more COVID-19 deaths

Utah health officials reported 20 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, along with 2,845 new cases.

Schoolchildren account for 412 of the new cases. Of those, 200 were children between the ages of 5 and 10, 86 were children 11-13, and 126 were children 14-17.

The rolling seven-day average for new positive tests is now 4,830 and has been steadily decreasing. The seven-day average for positive tests is currently 43.6% and is also on a downward trend.

The Utah Department of Health reported another 6,926 people who were tested.

Currently, 791 people are hospitalized in the state with COVID-19. The hospitalizations are down from last week but still very high compared to the rest of the pandemic.

About 50 service members are being sent by the Utah National Guard's COVID-19 Joint Task Force to assist long-term care facilities around the state in dealing with staff shortages caused by the omicron variant.

The state health department requested support from the National Guard throughout the month of February. Guard members will be assigned for one or two weeks at a specific facility, and will be moved to different facilities based on which need the most help at the time, according to a statement from the Utah National Guard.

"Utah National Guard members have provided invaluable assistance to the UDOH during the pandemic across multiple mission areas. ... We appreciate their hard work and dedication," said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, the department's deputy director.

Service members will attend a two-day training course that is approved through the Utah Nurse Aide Registry. After the course, they will have the required training to provide certain nursing-aide services under the supervision of a licensed nurse.

Director of Joint Staff Brig. Gen. Dar Craig said the Utah National Guard, which has about 7,300 members, is dedicated to supporting the state and its health care systems.

"We are proud to do our part to alleviate the burden of health care facilities affected by the rapid spread of the omicron variant," Craig said in a statement.

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, National Guard members have been assigned to help at testing and vaccination sites.

Although cases from the omicron variant seem to be declining throughout the state, Utah is still dealing with many of the hospitalizations and deaths that are resulting from the many cases Utah has seen over the last few weeks.

It is also unclear whether the decline is the result of fewer tests being conducted after Gov. Spencer Cox recently asked Utahns who feel mild symptoms to stay at home and just assume they have COVID-19 because of a shortage of tests.

The recent deaths include:

  • A Davis County woman over age 85, who was hospitalized when she died.
  • An Iron County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County women, 45-64, both hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 45-64, unknown if he was hospitalized.
  • Five Salt Lake County men, 65-84, all hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County women, 65-84, both hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, over 85, long-term care facility resident.
  • A Salt Lake County man, over 85, hospitalized.
  • A Washington County man, 45-64, hospitalized.
  • Two Washington County men, 65-84, neither was hospitalized.
  • A Washington County woman, over 85, hospitalized.
  • A Washington County man, over 85, hospitalized.
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