Another five Iron County residents tested positive for COVID-19 on a day where the Utah Department of Health reported that 747 Utahns have tested positive for the coronavirus — the most in one day since Pioneer Day.
The spike comes with 48 new cases reported in schools across Utah, the highest single-day jump for cases since many public schools began on Aug. 13.
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department reported 23 new cases in their jurisdiction. Today’s total in Iron County matches the number of new cases accumulated over the last three days, bringing the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the county to 2.7 per day.
Public-health officials use the state’s rolling seven-day average of new cases as a key metric to gauge the spread of the disease. Today the average went up to 585 cases per day, up from 404 new cases per day one week ago.
The state is “currently experiencing a new spike in cases, similar to what we saw earlier in the summer,” Dr. Angela Dunn, the state’s epidemiologist, said in a statement. She reiterated that, “We learned from our experience this summer that wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, along with staying home when we’re sick and washing our hands regularly, can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”
By taking those steps, Dunn said, “We can prevent unnecessary death and illness.”
Southern Utah University reported that 17 students, faculty and staff in total had informed the school that they had received a positive COVID-19 test as of Sept. 10.
State data doesn’t distinguish between K-12 schools and universities, but the virus has been spreading at both.
Since reopening, there have been 48 outbreaks throughout education campuses in the state, with one new outbreak listed Wednesday.
Brigham Young University, which had 560 cumulative cases this fall as of Tuesday, has been one of the biggest contributors to the uptick of case numbers at universities. In-person classes began in Provo on Aug. 31 for 43,000 students and faculty, and the school has reported the highest cumulative number of cases among colleges in the state.
The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, meanwhile, has had 241 cases for a campus of 62,000. It’s the second highest of the colleges in the state.
Among the cases in all schools in Utah, the patients have a median age of 16. Nine have been hospitalized; none has died.
The percentage of positive test results statewide was a record 11.1% on Wednesday, topping Tuesday’s record of 10.6%, UDOH said in its daily report. A low percentage of positive tests indicates most infected people are being tested, along with a lot of uninfected people, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has explained. She has noted that a 3% positivity rate would indicate the virus is under control.
One death was also reported Tuesday, a male Salt Lake County resident over 85 years old who was not hospitalized.
As of Wednesday, there were 115 people hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19, including 20 admitted since the previous day. Since the pandemic began, 3,381 Utahns have been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Mitch Quartz