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Health officials reported no new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in southwest Utah on Wednesday, leaving the total number at 58 cases since the virus hit the area last month.
The southwest district, which includes five counties, has counted 39 cases in Washington County, 15 in Iron County, three in Kane County, one in Garfield County and none in Beaver County, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Two people were still hospitalized on Wednesday, while 38 people had been hospitalized but recovered. One person, a woman from Iron County, had died.
© Rick Bowmer, AP
A Co-Diagnostics lab technician manufactures COVID-19 testing kits Friday, March 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City. The company says it has the capacity to produce 50,000 test kits daily from its Salt Lake City facility. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The statewide totals released Wednesday showed 130 new cases across Utah, with 2,542 cases total. Two hundred and twenty-one people have been hospitalized and 20 have died.
The new figures come as the state has started asking more residents to consider getting tested for the virus, even if they only have one of the associated symptoms of COVID-19 — a cough, a fever, or shortness of breath.
As of Wednesday, 47,614 people had been tested. About 5% of those tests were turning up positive.
Fewer people have been asking for tests in recent days. At the same time, the state has also ramped up capacity for handling COVID-19 patients, to the point that healthcare officials are now encouraging more people to get tested.
“We have the capacity to test them and we want you to send them for testing,” said Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist.
Dunn said during a Wednesday press briefing that the state was looking to use its testing capacity wisely to prevent more spread.
“We need to have a very high level of prudence when we’re looking at opening up businesses to make sure we’re taking all the steps necessary to avoid the spread,” she said.
So far, 15% of cases have come from “community spread,” where the origin of the infection was impossible to determine, Dunn said. In 70% of cases, there was a known point of contact, with 11% coming from travel and 4% were healthcare-related.
© Rick Bowmer, AP
Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist from the Utah Department of Health, speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
The pace of new cases statewide have been dropping over the past week.
Last Saturday, the number of cases was 1,428, an increase of 182 over the previous day. That represented the single largest daily increase numerically so far. At that time, Utah reported 28,043 people as having been tested.
Some local governments have begun re-open some operations, and pressure is building in places to allow certain businesses to reopen — the City of St. George announced Wednesday it planned to reopen its golf courses soon — but Dunn cautioned that any local government should be cautious and work closely with public health officials because the number of cases is still growing.
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In addition, the numbers of confirmed cases are likely to be unrepresentative of the actual number of cases out in the community, Dunn noted.
“We know there’s undiagnosed cases out there,” she said. “That’s the nature of COVID-19.”
Utah has not implemented a mandatory stay-at-home order, but Gov. Gary Herbert ordered a “soft” directive for people to stay at home except for “necessary” business and activities.
Herbert said Tuesday that he and health officials are discussing plans pull back some parts of his “soft” stay-at-home order, but gave no estimates on when those changes might happen. He said the choices would be based on “data not politics.”
Worst day yet for U.S.
Nationally, Tuesday saw the highest number of deaths attributed to the virus in the U.S. since the coronavirus crisis started. More than 2,200 new deaths were reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The previous highest daily death toll was 2,108, on Friday, but the daily total had declined steadily the previous three days.
It was not immediately clear what impact new counting methods adopted by New York City – where health authorities began including people who “probably had COVID-19” but died without being tested – had on Tuesday’s total.
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The U.S. death toll was over 26,000 Wednesday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard, but did not appear to include New York City’s new total. The U.S. has more than 600,000 confirmed cases.
Worldwide, the number of cases surpassed 2 million with over 128,000 deaths.
David DeMille is the content strategist and editor for The Spectrum & Daily News, a USA TODAY Network newsroom based in southern Utah. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Coronavirus updates: No new COVID-19 cases in Southwest Utah; 2,500+ counted statewide