SALT LAKE CITY — While Utah continues to see a plateau in new COVID-19 cases, more long-term care facilities continue to grapple with outbreaks.

© Steve Griffin, Deseret News
University of Utah Health medical assistant Caleb Stepaniak stands in front of fans to keep cool as he waits for the next car to arrive at a U. Wellness Bus COVID-19 drive-thru test event at the Sorenson Multicultural Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.

The Beehive State reported seven additional deaths due to disease on Friday, five of whom were long-term care residents.

Now, 163 of Utah’s 360 deaths were residents in long-term care facilities, which have been hit hard throughout the pandemic with infections. As of Friday, more than 1,000 long-term care residents and 930 workers in long-term care facilities have tested positive for the disease since the outbreak hit Utah, according to data from the Utah Department of Health.

While outbreaks early in the pandemic were centered in Salt Lake City long-term care facilities, they have now extended throughout the Wasatch Front and into central and southern Utah. Forty-four are facing active outbreaks.

Among the 300 facilities that have overcome outbreaks in Utah, the William E. Christoffersen Veterans Home last week announced it was finally free from infection after 51 residents tested positive and 13 died.

“This pandemic has been extraordinarily challenging for long-term care facilities, which —like the Salt Lake Veterans Home — care for individuals who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gary Harter, executive director with the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, said in a statement.

“However, while this outbreak is over, the battle is not. COVID-19 will continue to be a very real and insidious threat for the foreseeable future. The virus is particularly dangerous for the most vulnerable among us, like the residents of our veterans homes and other long-term care facilities,” Harter said.

In a national survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, 72% of nursing homes said they won’t be able to sustain operations for another year under current conditions. Due to the added costs from the pandemic, including personal protective equipment, additional staff and hero pay, 40% of nursing homes said they won’t be able to continue at the current pace for six months.

A majority of assisted living facilities said they risk “significant problems” without continued government pandemic response funding, according to the American Health Care Association.

New cases

Utah health officials reported 408 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths on Friday.

The new cases were confirmed out of about 2,460 tests, a 16.6% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 369 per day, and the average positive test rate is 8.8%.

On Friday, Utah also added 144 additional cases from early July that a lab had delayed reporting, according to health officials. They bring the state’s total to 45,976 cases of 589,817 people tested since the pandemic began, a 7.8% positive rate.

Currently, 171 people in Utah are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, 13 fewer than on Thursday. The state’s intensive care units — which have about 600 beds overall — are 66% full with coronavirus patients and others, while other hospital beds are 53.4% full.

Just under 36,700 of Utah’s cases are considered recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses.

The deaths reported Friday included three Salt Lake County women and one San Juan County woman, all between ages 65-84 and residents in long-term care facilities; a Salt Lake County man older than 85, also a long-term care resident; a Salt Lake County woman between ages 45-64, who was hospitalized when she died; and a Utah County woman between ages 65-84, who was also hospitalized when she died.

Utah’s death toll from the novel coronavirus is now 360 — or .08% of confirmed cases. About 48% were between ages 65-84, while 24% were over 85, and 23.9% were ages 45-64. While those with underlying health conditions and/or older than 65 are more likely to die of the disease, Utah has seen 11 deaths in those between 25-44 due to the coronavirus.

The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district:

Salt Lake County, 21,462; 1,399 hospitalized; 209 deaths. Utah County, 9,216; 432 hospitalized; 38 deaths. Davis County, 3,360; 189 hospitalized; 21 deaths. Southwest Utah, 3,288; 185 hospitalized; 26 deaths. Weber-Morgan, 2,960; 187 hospitalized; 25 deaths. Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 2,372; 112 hospitalized; 7 deaths. Summit County, 724; 53 hospitalized; 1 death. San Juan County, 655; 87 hospitalized; 26 deaths. Tooele County, 603; 30 hospitalized; 0 deaths. Wasatch County, 588; 23 hospitalized; 4 deaths. Central Utah, 445; 26 hospitalized; 2 deaths. TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 186; 14 hospitalized; 0 deaths. Southeast Utah, 117; 7 hospitalized; 1 death.

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