Utah COVID-19 cases dropping, with 3,600 reported Wednesday – Salt Lake Tribune

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Utah reported 3,609 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, marking an apparent drop in new February infections despite a recent statewide test shortage that may be obscuring true case counts.

Hospitalizations also dipped, though they remain extremely high. There were 781 Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 according to Wednesday data, down from Tuesday’s 791 but far higher than the record before January — 606, in December 2020. State officials last week announced that a data error had caused inaccuracies in hospital counts for months, significantly undercounting them in recent weeks.

There were 183 COVID patients in intensive care units statewide as of Wednesday. ICUs in the state’s larger “referral” hospitals were at 90.5 % capacity, once again exceeding the 85% threshold that hospital administrators have said is necessary to leave room for unpredictable staffing levels, new patients and availability of specialized equipment and personnel.

ICUs in those larger hospitals have surpassed 85% occupancy almost continuously since late August, with Tuesday providing one day’s respite — 84% — before becoming overcrowded again Wednesday.

For the past four weeks, the TriCounty region of northeast Utah has reported more hospitalizations per resident than any other part of the state. Those three counties — Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne — also have the lowest vaccination rate of any part of the state.

Statewide, 85.8% of all ICU beds were filled.

The Utah Department of Health on Tuesday also confirmed 13 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 4,150.

[Read more: Utah officials still recommend not to get tested for COVID. Here’s why.]

According to state data, 60% of Utahns are fully vaccinated — a figure that has been inching upward for weeks. However, researchers have found that a booster is crucial to prevent serious illness. Less than 25% of all Utahns have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Find where to get vaccinated at coronavirus.utah.gov/vaccine-distribution. Find where to get tested at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-covid-19-testing-locations.

Breakdown of updated figures

Vaccine doses administered during the weekend/total doses administered • 4,630 / 4,809,925.

Number of Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,949,005 — 60% of Utah’s total population. That is an increase of 1,293 in the past day.

Cases reported in the past day • 3,609.

Vaccination status • Health officials do not immediately have to release the vaccination status of individuals who test positive, who are hospitalized or who die. They do calculate the overall risk ratios of these outcomes depending on vaccination status, which is listed below.

Tests reported in the past day • A total of 23,143 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past day • 13.

Seven of those who died were from Utah County: two women and a man ages 45-64, two women ages 65-84, and a man and a woman older than 84.

Washington County reported two deaths: a woman age 65-84 and a man older than 84.

Four other counties each reported one man died. Sevier and Davis counties reported the deaths of men ages 45-64, and Salt Lake and Iron counties each reported the deaths of men ages 65-84.

Utahns currently hospitalized with COVID-19 • 781. That is 10 fewer than reported Tuesday. Of those currently hospitalized, 183 are in intensive care — the same as Tuesday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate was 40.6% on Wednesday. That is lower than the seven-day average of 42.5%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Tuesday’s rate was 15.6%, lower than the seven-day average of 26.5%.

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Risk ratios • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahns were 9.2 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as vaccinated people were, according to a Utah Department of Health analysis. The unvaccinated also were 4.6 times as likely to be hospitalized, and 2.3 times as likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Totals to date • 891,977 cases; 4,150 deaths; 31,552 hospitalizations; 8,934,917 tests administered.