Utah continues to see decrease in positive COVID-19 cases
Utah is not “out of the woods” when it comes to positive COVID-19 cases, but certain measures and regulations in place have helped create a steady decline that hopefully continues into fall, says Gov. Gary Herbert.
During an 11:45 a.m. weekly briefing on September 10, Herbert commended Utahns for working together and following social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.
Dr. Angela Dunn with Utah’s Department of Health said weekly percent positive COVID-19 testings have decreased from 9.4% to 9.1%, and the seven day rolling average went from 394 to 381, a small but good change.
“Percent positivity… is a measure of how well we’re doing at testing and also a measure of the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state,” she said.
According to White House guidelines for percent positivity, Dunn said, a percentage of over 10% would be considered high, while 5% to 9.9% is considered in the yellow zone, meaning Utah should take steps like increasing testing to see this percent positivity decrease further.
Utah is seeing less COVID-19 spread than other states, but Herbert warns this is not an excuse for Utahns to become lax when it comes to social distancing guidelines.
“We’re not ready to declare victory in this war on the coronavirus, but in comparison to other states we’ve done very well.”
Current numbers show only 118 hospital beds being utilized for COVID-19 patients throughout the state, a much lower number than June’s hospital bed occupancy at over 140.
The question now, Herbert said, is what can Utah do even better moving forward.
Because Utah purchased $42 million worth of PPE equipment earlier in the year, the state now has a cushion of PPE items, especially for medical professionals if there is a COVID-19 resurgence.
“We hope for the best but we are preparing for the worst,” Herbert said.
There is a concern that a resurgence may occur this fall with schools reopening and more indoor activity among students could contribute to a spike in positive cases.
“We’re having some very important and deep discussions on… how do we address this to make sure our public health care is appropriate… and our economic health remains viable,” he said.
House Speaker Brad Wilson said Utah needs students to take advantage of the services schools provide to them, like meals, mental health services, and social learning benefits.
“Educators across our state have worked really hard and tirelessly to find the best way to teach our kids,” he said.
Along with commending the state and health care systems for taking care of Utahns and the decrease in positive COVID-19 cases, Wilson also said even through the pandemic, Utah’s economy was the strongest in the country, seeing very little overall unemployment and job availability loss.