The Utah Department of Health reported 911 new COVID-19 cases, which marks a record daily number. Among those cases, Southern Utah University reported nine new patients had informed the school that they tested positive for the illness.
With only the second week of classes coming to a close for SUU students, the university has seen a total of 26 cases. Compared to other Utah universities, this number is extremely low.
Since Aug. 28, Brigham Young University has had a total of 690 reported cases, with 402 active. Since Aug. 15, University of Utah has had 258 reported cases, with 110 during the week of Sept. 9-15.
On Sept. 16, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department published a total of 706 cases in Iron County, with an increase of three cases from the previous day.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, 40% of the state’s cases from the past week have come from Utah County, even though its population only makes up 20% of Utah.
This increase of cases across the state is expected to be from students returning to school for the fall semester.
Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said in the hospital chain’s weekly Facebook Live briefing that case numbers are highest in individuals in the 15-24 age group. However, attending school is not causing the majority of the spreading.
Stenehjem says most transmission is probably occurring at social events or extracurricular activities. While students might remain safe in the classroom, student behavior on the weekends is out of universities’ control.
Gov. Gary Herbert recently pleaded for individuals to wear face coverings and follow social distance guidelines. Although he feels these guidelines are “common sense,” he noted how some Utahns are choosing to purposefully ignore them.
“I’m concerned by the lack of concern that some Utahns have for the welfare of others,” he said.
The concern does not stop at the number of positive cases. Stenehjem worries hospitals will suffer from a rise of patients and an insufficient number of available physicians.
Eventually, those recovering from the disease will need to be treated by healthy individuals who can offer more than just a hospital bed.
Story by: Amanda Walton
Photo Courtesy of SUU News