Utah coronavirus cases remain stubbornly high through July 4, with five more dying

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Utah will enter the July 4 holiday in an unenviable location: on a higher plateau for COVID-19 cases.

Over a nine-day period, between June 25 and July 3, the seven-day moving average for COVID-19 cases, the way public health experts track trends, has been above 500. On Friday, the Utah Health Department’s daily count of 596 new cases raised the seven-day average to 545.1 per day.

New cases Friday raised the state’s total to 23,866 since the pandemic began in March.

The department also announced Friday that five other Utahns had died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 181.

One of the five new deaths was a man, aged 25-44, who was a resident of a long-term care facility in Weber County.

The other four were between 65 and 84 years old. One, a Summit County man, was hospitalized when he died. One, a woman, was a resident of a long-term care facility in Washington County. The other two, a man and a woman, were residents of long-term care facilities in Salt Lake County.

Back on Memorial Day on May 25, the seven-day average was 156.9 cases per day. That holiday weekend, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, is when Utah’s current surge began. The seven-day average reached 476 cases per day, more than triple the Memorial Day level on June 21, and has not fallen below that number since then.

Friday’s report marks the tenth consecutive day that the state’s daily count of cases has exceeded 450.

In Utah’s most populous county, Salt Lake County, the daily case level has been above 200 for the past 10 days. The county’s seven-day average reached 278.2 cases per day on Friday.

Salt Lake County has had 12,050 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That represents just over half of all cases statewide, even though the county contains about a third of Utah’s population.

Another 24 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported. There were still 186 people in the hospital with the disease on Thursday, and another 46 people hospitalized whose cases are “under investigation.” (Hospitalization figures are one day behind the case count.) The state reports that 52.4% of Utah hospital beds, and 64.8% of the beds in its intensive care unit, are occupied.

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in March, 1,529 people have been hospitalized with the disease in Utah.

Another 10,250 people have been evaluated for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests to 356,636. The positive test rate for the day is 5.8%, and the rate since the pandemic began is 6.7%.

Utah health officials consider 13,408 of the state’s cases to be “recovered,” using the definition of being alive three weeks after diagnosis.