SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah continues to experience a surge in new COVID-19 cases, a higher rate of infections are being contracted through workplace contacts and unknown sources, indicating more community spread, data shows.

© Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Numerous motorists line up for COVID-19 testing near University of Utah Health’s Sugar House Health Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

Of the Beehive State’s 28,855 cases since the pandemic began, 18,027 — or 62.5% — contracted the disease from known contacts. The transmission rate through social interactions has fallen from 24.9% in May to 17.3% of the cases that were contracted through known contacts, according to data from the Utah Department of Health. Travel transmission has fallen from 3.5% to 2.2%.

Unknown sources now account for 18.5% of Utah’s cases, up from 17.1% in May. Cases contracted in-state without known contacts account for 13.2% of the total. Transmission within workplaces has risen from 4.9% in early May to 8.2% in July, with 1,473 cases traced back to workplaces.

But household spread continues to be the largest known transmission source, accounting for 10,961 cases.

For Morgan Winder, a southern Utah mom, it’s a mystery how the disease entered her home and infected her and her husband. They both tested positive, while four of their five kids ages 11 and younger also developed the symptoms of COVID-19.

For the most part, Winder and her kids have remained inside throughout the pandemic and have taken precautions. Her husband might have gotten COVID-19 from one of his jobs, Winder said, but public health workers haven’t been able to trace it to a known source.

By Saturday, most of the family had recovered. But as she spoke to the Deseret News 13 days into her illness, Winder said she remained short of breath.

“We all got sick at the same time. None of us have any other health conditions. For some reason it’s just hanging on to me longer,” Winder said.

They each experienced tightness in their chests, a dry cough, fever, body aches and digestive issues. But the worst part was the fatigue, she said. And at times, their 4-year-old son’s cough sounded so serious they checked his oxygen levels to be sure he was OK.

“On one hand it was really hard because we couldn’t have help because I have a lot of family that’s close, and we didn’t want to risk getting everyone else sick. And so my husband and I just had to tough it out and help the kids when they were sick,” Winder recalled.

She is speaking out about the family’s experience, including on social media, to help others recognize signs of the illness and take it seriously.

“On one hand, I want people to understand that it’s not as scary as it has seemed — but it is miserable, and it is a scary thing. And my sister’s living with us with a newborn baby who was born early, and so that has been scary. We never know who we’re going to give it to, and that kind of fear is scary and overwhelming,” Winder explained.

“I guess I want people to take precautions, to do all the things that (health officials) say, wash your hands, sanitize your home frequently, wear your mask so you’re not spreading it to any people,” the mom said.

Though she expected the time confined to be “dreadful,” Winder said the family made the most of it through spending more time together watching movies and getting creative.

“That’s been the biggest positive for me as a mom, to be able to have a better relationship with my kids,” Winder said.

“So there’s positives to it, but I wish people could be more careful and understand that it is not a fun, it is not just like a cold. I’ve never had a cold or flu like this.”

New cases

On Saturday, Utah reported 632 new cases of the novel coronavirus out of 9,378 tests, for a 6.7% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. Now, 28,855 people in Utah have been confirmed to have the virus out of 405,352 tested, for an overall positive rate of 7.12%.

Salt Lake City’s testing locations also saw long lines and wait times Saturday as demand for COVID-19 tests continues to increase along with rising cases.

The average of daily new cases over the past seven days is now 614, officials said, and the average percentage of positive tests is 9.9%.

The state set its daily record of new cases on Friday, when 867 were confirmed.

Also on Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an email asked all Utah members of the church to wear face masks when in public. The email came after hospital officials earlier Friday expressed fears that they will soon become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, and asked for a state mask mandate.

© Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Motorists are directed as they line up for COVID-19 testing near University of Utah Health’s Sugar House Health Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

“Please join with us now in common purpose for the blessing and benefit of all,” said the email, signed by Elder Craig C. Christensen, the Utah Area president, and his counselors, Elder Randy D. Funk and Elder Walter F. González. Each man is a General Authority Seventy of the church.

Utah now has 203 patients hospitalized with the disease, up 21 since Friday. Intensive care units in the state are 70.6% occupied, while non-ICUs are 53.3% occupied. Of the state’s 1,300 ventilators, 195 are in use by those with COVID-19 and other patients. Sixty-six patients are under investigation for having the coronavirus.

Five more deaths were also reported Saturday — four Salt Lake County men, two of whom were between ages of 65 and 84 and two between ages 45-64. Two were residents in long-term care facilities.

A Washington County woman between the ages of 25 and 44 also died. She was not hospitalized when she died, according to health officials.

Utah’s death toll from the novel coronavirus is now at 212.

Just under 16,900 Utahns are considered recovered from the coronavirus after passing the three-week point since their diagnoses.

The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district: Salt Lake County, 14,336; 972 hospitalized; 130 deaths. Utah County, 5,271; 264 hospitalized; 27 deaths. Southwest Utah, 2,005; 121 hospitalized; 16 deaths. Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 1,745; 67 hospitalized; 3 deaths. Davis County, 1,794; 105 hospitalized; 6 deaths. Weber-Morgan, 1,494; 103 hospitalized; 14 deaths. Summit County, 574; 48 hospitalized; 1 death. San Juan County, 465; 60 hospitalized; 11 deaths. Wasatch County, 452; 20 hospitalized; 4 deaths. Tooele County, 334; 15 hospitalized; 0 deaths. Central Utah, 266; 16 hospitalized; 0 deaths. TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 65; 5 hospitalized; 0 deaths. Southeast Utah, 54; 1 hospitalized; 0 deaths.

© Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Numerous motorists line up for COVID-19 testing near University of Utah Health’s Sugar House Health Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

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