SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials repeated their previous request for citizens to be tested for the coronavirus as new numbers showed a slight decrease in new cases but a spike in deaths. The four new fatalities involved individuals who were over the age of 60 and hospitalized with underlying medical conditions.
Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn said three of the new deaths were in Salt Lake County, the other was in Weber County. Two had been residents of a long-term care facility where an outbreak had occurred.
“I want to note,” explained Dunn, “half of our total deaths, 16 out of 32, have been among individuals infected with COVID-19 at a long-term care facility. And this number, while tragic, could be a lot higher as we have seen in other states where a single long-term care facility outbreak has resulted in more deaths than this.”
Tuesday’s press conference was held as the Utah Department of Health confirmed 83 new cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, a continued 3 percent growth rate. The report showed 3,296 total cases within the state, resulting in 277 hospitalizations throughout the outbreak. There have also been 72,358 people tested, an increase of 4,047 during the past day. There have also been an estimated 888 Utahns who have recovered from COVID-19.
Dunn said the state has a surplus of testing supplies and can test anyone who is reporting even mild symptoms. Those symptoms have recently been expanded to include a fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, decrease sense of taste or smell, or a sore throat.
“We really need people who have the most mild of symptoms to get tested so that we as public officials can have really good data to identify the burden of spread across our state. That will be used in forming policy and public health interventions.”
Testing is free through the CARES Act so citizens should not be billed. Locally, sites are set up at Sterling Urgent Care, North Cache Valley InstaCare in Hyde Park and Bear River Clinic in Tremonton.
Dunn said even though the percentage of new cases are starting to decrease, it is still essential for people to Stay Safe, Stay Home. Recommendations for social distancing are more important than ever.
“We are seeing really positive things in our numbers that are a sign that we are flattening the curve. That means it’s even more important for us to continue doing this until we start seeing a decrease. So, when we can open up the economy, we don’t see a surge in cases again. Even though it might feel safe right now, it feels safe because we have been adhering to social distancing restrictions and we really just need to stay the course, so that we can keep this trend going and see a downward trend.”
Tuesday’s status hearing was held as the Bear River Health Department announced no new cases in northern Utah. They also decreased the number of cases to 56, after a previous patient was tracked to another county outside the area. There are 40 cases in Cache County, 16 cases in Box Elder County and none reported in Rich County.