SALT LAKE CITY – Utah health officials reported another 747 COVID-19 cases – the highest daily increase since July – and another death on Wednesday.
Dr. Angela Dunn said that this new spike suggests that people need to be reminded about the importance of following the same basic health directions.
Dunn, an epidemiologist, said, “We learned from our experience this summer that wearing masks and being away from home, as well as being sick and washing your hands regularly, can help us.” The Utah Department of Health said in a statement.
“We are currently facing a new spike in cases, as we saw earlier in the summer. It is time to reiterate the importance of people taking these preventive measures. If we are sick by wearing masks, physically disturbed and staying at home, we can prevent unnecessary death and disease, ”she said.
With K-12 and colleges resuming transition, a relatively new form of COVID-19 testing is becoming more popular as sports teams and high-risk venues such as nursing homes increasingly identify its use And to track outbreaks.
Like PCR tests, antigen tests are administered via nasal swabs. But instead of searching for the virus itself, antigen tests detect proteins found on the virus. While patients usually have to wait several days to get the results of a PCR test, antigen test results can return in 15 minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the method of testing is less sensitive than PCR testing, however. According to the CDC, when viral load is highest, antigen tests are most accurate in the early stages of infection.
“Antigen tests are very accurate. However, a false negative is more likely to result in a test. This means that if you do a negative test for COVID-19 with an antigen test, you may have to undergo a PCR test to make sure you don’t have COVID-19, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Due to the high false negative rate, when someone receives an antigen test, authorities also encourage their provider to consider their symptoms and potential risks. A patient who tests negative for the disease with an antigen test should receive a follow-up PCR test if they are symptomatic or have a known risk of a confirmed COVID-19 case, the CDC says.
The effectiveness of antigen tests as a public health tool is also limited due to inconsistent reporting of test results in states – 20 states do not report antigen test results or count positivity as confirmed cases.
Utah, however, incorporates both positive and negative results for PCR and antigens in its case. Methods of testing are fragmented on the COVID-19 dashboard of the state health department, titled “Positive test report date in COVID-19 cases”. Small portions of positive antigen results are shown in green, and negative antigen results are shown in black. The numbers are so low that they are easy for the eye to miss.
Although the public in Utah has access to antigen tests – some private clinics and independent testing companies administer them – the state does not have a good way of keeping track of and publicizing where patients can get antigen tests, Jenny Johnson’s spokesman said Utah Department of Health.
But Utah is now purchasing rapid-testing machines to deploy high-risk facilities, nursing homes, Native tribes and local health departments to provide on-site antigen testing, as quick turnaround time is necessary.
Although they are fast, antigen tests will not replace PCR tests
“If we can do a less invasive test that is as accurate as PCR, if the turnaround time is quick, we want to build and support that capability, but it’s not against each other. Johnson said that they serve different purposes and they both have their pros and cons.
The federal government has begun relying on antigen tests to test nursing home patients and prevent outbreaks. The Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $ 760 million contract to purchase 150 million rapid antigen tests from Illinois-based diagnostic company Abbott.
On May 9, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first antigen test for COVID-19. On August 26, the FDA approved an antigen test developed by Abbott, which shows results directly on the test card, similar to a pregnancy test. That test should be given within seven days of symptom onset.
The turnaround time for PCR tests in Utah is between 24 and 48 hours – but this is subject to change depending on demand, Johnson said. The state continues to maintain its test capacity from 7,000 to 8,000 per day, but for the past several weeks fewer people have demanded testing.
“The published turnaround time for COVID-19 diagnostic testing is one to four days, although ARUP is the process of several tests in Utah at about 36 hours,” said Adam Barker, director of ARUP’s COVID-19 Rapid Tenson Lab. Statement to Deseret News.
Utah also continues to increase its overall testing capacity.
Officials with ARUP laboratories confirmed on Tuesday that the lab hopes to increase its ability to process 15,000 COVID-19 PCR tests per day soon. Officials said ARUP, which partners with the University of Utah Health, is not conducting antigen testing and does not plan to do so.
Intermountain Healthcare and Test Utah, two other large test providers in Utah, are also not conducting antigen testing for the public. Officials said antigen testing is being used for COVID-19 symptomatic patients in emergency departments and labor and delivery centers.
Wednesday’s coronavirus cases were confirmed with an 18.1% positive rate out of 4,119 trials. They bring out the state’s total cases as epidemic trials of 59,747 out of 729,731 people began, a positive rate of about 8.2%.
The rolling seven-day average for new cases is now 585 per day, and the average positive test rate is 11.1%. Currently, Utah has 115 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, 13 fewer than on Tuesday. Since the outbreak’s onset, 3,381 people in Utah have been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Utah County cases – 41% of the total – overtook Salt Lake County again on Wednesday.
A high percentage of Utah’s new cases are in the 15-24 age group as college has resumed. Health officials said the group accounted for 38% of the state’s new cases on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Utah Valley University updated its self-reported case count for 151 students and 47 staff and faculty members, while Brigham Young University reported 330 active cases and 230 cases to be isolated. The University of Utah has confirmed 241 cases on its campus as of Tuesday.
The death reported Wednesday was that of an 85-year-old man from Salt Lake County who was not hospitalized when he died. The state died 437 by his death.
About 49,700 of Utah cases are recovered after three weeks of living since their diagnosis, meaning approximately 9,600 cases remain active.
New COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday by health districts across Utah:
- Utah County, 309.
- Salt Lake County, 272.
- Davis County, 46.
- Bear River (Box Elder, Cash, Rich), 38.
- Weber-Morgan, 37.
- Southwestern Utah, 23.
- Toukele County, 7.
- Wasatch County, 6.
- Central Utah, ४.
- Summit County, 2.
- Tricounty (Uinta Basin), 2.
- Southeast Utah, 1.
- San Juan County, 0.