Seven more members of Southern Utah University’s campus community have received a positive COVID-19 test, according to the school’s “Case Count” page, updated Thursday.
The new cases were self-reported by students, faculty and staff from Oct. 15-21. Since the school began posting cast totals online on Aug. 31, 58 people have informed the school of testing positive for the coronavirus.
The Utah Department of Health reported another single-day record for new cases with 1,543.
Utah also reported six new deaths on Thursday, bringing the death toll in the state to 653 since the pandemic began.
In Iron County, three new cases were reported by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Cedar City is the only one of Utah’s 98 “small areas” to report weekly cases below 101 new patients per 100,00 residents, the federal benchmark that defines infection levels in the “red zone.”
Washington County moved to the “high level of transmission” as outlined by the state’s new risk assessment plan. Another 67 cases were counted in the county Thursday.
On Sunday, Dixie Regional Medical Center filled its intensive care unit beds, and the hospital opened overflow ICUs to accommodate more patients. The University of Utah Hospital also surpassed its capacity on Friday.
Gov. Gary Herbert said that healthcare workers are exhausted both physically and mentally during his monthly PBS Utah press conference. He expressed concern over the long term impacts of the disease on those who survive it.
“It is really a frustrating fight we have going here,” Herbert said. “It is like whack-a-mole.”
More than 700 Utahns have been reported hospitalized for the coronavirus in the past two weeks — the highest number of any 14-day stretch since the pandemic began. In total, 4,880 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, an increase of 73 from Wednesday.
There are signs that the strain on hospitals will only get worse. Patients often require hospital treatment a week or more after they’re infected, which means today’s record-breaking case loads have yet to show up in the state’s hospital numbers.
In addition to 15 counties moving to “high” transmission levels, Duchesne moved from “low” to “moderate” level, joining Iron and Uintah counties — the only two that remained in the “moderate” category for a second week.
Residents in those counties are ordered to abide by mask requirements and limit gatherings to 10 people until Oct. 29, which is the end of the state’s two-week “circuit breaker.” During this heightened rules in moderate-transmission counties are intended to suppress a statewide surge that has made Utah’s outbreak one of the ten worst in the nation.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz