Utah health officials report 19 COVID deaths, as US Navy arrives to support hospital staff

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported 19 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, along with 461 new cases.

The rolling, seven-day average for new positive tests is now 405 per day. The seven-day average for positive tests is currently 13.2%, continuing a decline, according to the Utah Department of Health.

It also reported Wednesday that another 3,882 people in Utah were tested and 2,434 were vaccinated. And, school children accounted for 45 of the 461 new cases. Of those, 25 cases were children between ages 5 and 10, five were ages 11-13, and 15 were ages 14-17.

Currently, 306 people are hospitalized in the state with COVID-19, according to the health department, with 63 of those patients in intensive care. Several weeks ago, in mid-January, there were more than 600 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including hundreds in the ICU.

ICU capacity is now at 71%, and ICU referral centers are 73% full — both below the warning levels.

At the height of the omicron variant’s impact on the state’s hospitals, there were 853 COVID-19 patents hospitalized. Now the state is at the lowest COVID-19 hospitalization levels that it has seen since July 22, shortly after the delta variant became prevalent in Utah.

US Navy helps with surgery backlog

A medical team of 20 United States Navy officers sent by the country’s Department of Defense arrived at the University of Utah Hospital on Wednesday to start a 30-day deployment to assist with a backlog of surgeries.

Surgeries were put on hold while the omicron variant took many of the hospital’s resources. Having additional medically trained people will mean the hospital can open more beds and reschedule surgical procedures that have been put on hold.

This deployment is part of the Department of Defense’s efforts to support the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is in collaboration with state leaders, according to a U. Health press release.

“While we are seeing declining numbers in COVID cases, 52 beds remain out of service because of staffing shortages,” Dr. Michael Good, CEO at University of Utah Health, said.

He said the hospital deferred hundreds of surgeries and was forced into “hard decisions” regarding whether to take transfer patients during the wave of omicron variant COVID-19 infections.

“Thanks to FEMA and with the help of colleagues from the Department of Defense, who will focus on treating COVID-positive patients, we can begin to address these challenges and provide needed care to all patients in Utah and throughout the Mountain West,” Good said.

The clinical team of physicians, respiratory therapists, administrators and primarily nurses will focus on direct patient care needs.

The press release explained that the U. Hospital is often the best or only option for the most complex patients in the area, and that assistance from the federal government will allow for these patients to be served more quickly.

“We’re grateful for this support … and the ongoing collaboration with our state leaders to help restore our operations.” Good said.

Recently reported COVID-19 deaths

In Wednesday’s report, health officials announced 19 total new deaths, 10 of which occurred over a month ago, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 4,436 Utah lives lost throughout the pandemic.

Of people who died with COVID-19, 43.4% had a pre-existing condition, 81.3% were considered high risk because they were over 65 or had a pre-existing condition, and 59.6% were hospitalized when they died. Men have accounted for just over 60% of the COVID-19 deaths in Utah.

The deaths reported Wednesday represent 10 different counties throughout the state. Only one of the individuals was younger than 65, and 11 were older than 85.

The newest COVID-19 deaths in Utah include:

  • A Tooele County woman between 65 and 84, it is unknown whether she was hospitalized or at a long-term care facility.
  • A Salt Lake County woman, over 85, long-term care facility resident.
  • A Davis County woman, over 85, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Juab County woman, over 85, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Weber County woman, 65-84, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Utah County man, over 85, not hospitalized.
  • A Utah County woman, over 85, not hospitalized.
  • A Sevier County man, over 85, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Salt Lake County man, 65-84, hospitalized.
  • A Cache County man, 65-84, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Washington County man, over 85, not hospitalized.
  • A Uintah County man, over 85, not hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, over 85, not hospitalized.
  • Two Salt Lake County men, 65-84, both not hospitalized.
  • A Washington County man, 65-84, not hospitalized.
  • A Utah County man, over 85, hospitalized.
  • A Salt Lake County man, over 85, unknown if hospitalized or in a long-term care facility.
  • A Uintah County woman, 45-64, hospitalized.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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