Utah’s COVID-19 death toll tops 1,000

SALT LAKE CITY – On the day that Utah’s pandemic death toll finally topped 1,000 fatalities, the state’s straight-talking epidemiologist led off Gov. Gary Herbert’s weekly televised press conference by focusing on slightly less bad news.

Dr. Angela Dunn began her remarks by noting that Utah’s rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases was 2,816 (up from 2,627 last week) and that its percentage of positive tests was 26.2 percent (up from 24.2 percent last week).

“Both (averages) are up slightly,” she added, “but it is not nearly the surge we were expecting post-Thanksgiving.”

Dunn went on to announce 21 new deaths overnight, making Thursday the third consecutive day that state officials have reported more than 20 fatalities in a 24-hour period.

Dunn acknowledged that Utah’s pandemic death toll now stood at 1,016, but added “this number represents a very small fraction of individuals who actually get infected with COVID-19.”

Dunn then launched into state officials’ familiar litany that “we must all make every effort to do our part to protect the lives and livelihoods of Utahns” by wearing masks, staying home when sick and limiting close contacts to household members.

Following those brief remarks, Dunn changed the subject to discuss new contact tracing technology.

During his time at the podium, Herbert praised Utah families for helping to reduce current COVID-19 infection rates by observing pandemic precautions during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Utah Department of Health reported 3,401 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of Utahns infected since mid-March to nearly 226,000.

Another 15,613 state residents were tested for the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, meaning that nearly half of Utah’s population has now been tested.

Health officials report that 554 people are now hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19. The total number of Utahns requiring hospital treatment for the disease since the beginning of the outbreak now stands at 9,187.

Of the 21 new deaths reported by state officials Thursday, one was a female resident of Box Elder County between 65 and 84 years of age who was residing in a long-term care facility.

The Utah Department of Health said that 16 of the remaining 20 newly deceased Utah patients were hospitalized or under long-term care. Five of them were 85 years of age or older; 11 were aged 65 to 84; two were between 45 and 64 years of age; and two were aged 25 to 44.

Twelve of those patient fatalities were reported in Salt Lake County, one in Davis County, two in Iron County, one in Tooele County, one in Uintah County and three in Utah County.

Here in the Bear River Health District, incidents of coronavirus infection continued to climb with 217 new cases reported overnight, according to BRHD spokesman Josuha Greer. That brings the total of cases in the area of Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties to 11,942 since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March.

The most recent Idaho data indicates there are 116,203 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far in the state, up by 2,298 new cases overnight. Since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March, 785 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus in Franklin County, 221 in Bear Lake County and 201 in Oneida County. There have been 1,103 COVID-19 deaths in Idaho.

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