Tuesday state officials announced a new plan of attack they hope will lead to control of the surging COVID-19 cases which have numbered as many as 1,500 infections a day in Utah.
Gov. Gary Herbert acknowledged Utah’s COVID outbreak is one of the worst in the country. He called it unacceptable.
“You and your families deserve good health and the best efforts from the government to help you to go back to normal activities as soon as possible. It’s really time for a new gameplan, we have to make some adjustments. As a state government we owe it to you to make critical decisions about the COVID-19 pandemic based on critical health data. Not based on fear and certainly not based on politics.”
The state will no longer use the color-coded system of the last seven months but will transition to using the level of transmission in Utah’s 29 counties by measuring positivity rates, hospitalizations and case rates.
Counties will be grouped into “high”, “moderate” or “low” levels. Other considerations will include the size of gatherings, mask requirements and other restrictions.
Cache County along with five others have been designated as high transmission areas. Masks will be required in all indoor settings, and social gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer. Box Elder County was placed in the moderate category and Rich County was low.
State Director of Epidemiology, Dr. Angela Dunn, said each week the Utah Department of Health will analyze three key data points for each county. Based on that data each county will be categorized as a high, moderate or a low transmission area.
“These levels directly correspond to case rates, percent positivity, and statewide ICU utilizations. As Gov. Herbert said we’re going to analyze this data weekly and counties are going to be categorized according to each metric and where they fall.”
There were 987 new COVID-19 cases included in the state health department’s Tuesday report.
Also, there have been 522 COVID-19 deaths in Utah, the same as Monday. The rolling seven-days average for positive tests is 1,182 a day.
The Bear River Health Department reported 39 new cases Tuesday (33 in Cache County and six in Box Elder County).
There have been 4,102 positive cases over the course of the pandemic in the Bear River District, 3,376 in Cache County, 706 in Box Elder County and 20 in Rich County.
Among the new positives in the district, 3,149 are considered “recovered”. There are now eight from the district in hospitals, six from Cache County and two from Box Elder County.
The 249 Tuesday hospitalizations are five short of Sunday’s 254 patients in hospitals which is the highest one-day total of the pandemic. Total hospitalizations since the beginning of the outbreak is 4,331.
The total number of positive cases detected since early-March in Utah has grown to 88,819 and among all those positive tests since the outbreak, 64,583 are considered recovered.
A total of 931,732 tests have been administered in Utah during the pandemic.
In the most recent report from Idaho there are 49,247 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. There have been 507 COVID deaths in Idaho with 203 positive tests in Franklin County, 53 positives in Bear Lake County and 29 in Oneida County.