COVID-19 case rate down in Southern Utah, but deaths and hospitalizations are rising

Photo illustration. | Coronavirus representation courtesy Centers for Disease Control, Photo and composite by Chris Reed, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Bucking the current trend in the state, Southern Utah has seen the rate of new coronavirus cases moving downward in the last week.

Social distancing floor sign in St. George Regional Airport on June 22, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

However, the number of local people hospitalized with the virus has moved back up and two more people have died of COVID-19 in Washington County this weekend.

There were 29 new infections in Southern Utah reported by the Utah Department of Health Sunday. After the last week of June that seemingly saw the area setting a new one-day high for new cases on a daily basis, the number of new cases has been above 40 only once in July when it hit 41 on Friday.

That said, after a brief two-day period where the number of local people hospitalized with coronavirus at Dixie Regional Medical Center had seemed to go down, it is right back up now to 21 Southern Utahns hospitalized. And contrary to rumors on social media, hospital officials have reported that the intensive care unit that includes more severe cases remains two-thirds full.

One of those cases in the hospital lost his battle over the weekend, as the Utah Department of Health reported a Washington County man older than 85 died of the virus.

His death follows that of a 65 to 84-year-old Washington County woman who was reported dead Friday at a local long-term residential facility. There have now been 13 deaths from the virus in Southern Utah since the first positive test on March 21, with all but two of those deaths being Washington County residents.

Chart shows the rise in deaths and hospitalizations in Southern Utah from the coronavirus since May 1 as of July 4, 2020 according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Click to enlarge. | Chart by Chris Reed, St. George News

The outbreak at local nursing homes has remained confined to three local facilities. The outbreak at Sterling Court in St. George has remained confined to less than five cases, while the outbreak at The Wentworth at the Meadows memory care home in St. George – that had been above five cases – is now below that. 

St. George Rehabilitation has not been able to do the same, and still has more than five patients with the virus.

While the rise in new cases has slowed in Southern Utah, the same cannot be said for the state as a whole.

The Utah Department of Health noted a record 676 new cases on July 4 and 410 more Sunday. The state has seen a 15% increase in hospitalizations in the last week, with 217 more people hospitalized and 17 more dead statewide.

This week in Salt Lake City, Gov. Gary Herbert will be holding discussions with legislators on a possible statewide mask mandate that would require face coverings when people are in public places.

This May 13, 2020, photo taken with a fisheye lens shows a list of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake County early in the coronavirus pandemic at the Salt Lake County Health Department, in Salt Lake City, Utah. | Photo by Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, St. George News

Wednesday also marks the expiration of the current order that has maintained the yellow coronavirus risk level and the governor will need to decide whether to maintain the current risk level, open the state up more by lowering it to green, or recommend closing many businesses and activities down by moving back to orange.

In a previous memo, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn with the Utah Department of Health had said she would recommend Utah move to the orange risk level statewide, if by July 1 the number of new cases per day had not gone below 200 new cases per day.

At this point, it has been 12 days since the state was below 400 new cases in a day.

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of July 5, 2020, county-by-county breakdown is as of July 4)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 1,689

  • Washington County: 1,304
  • Iron County: 324
  • Garfield County: 15  
  • Kane County: 7
  • Beaver County: 11 

Deaths: 13 

  • Washington County: 11
  • Iron County: 1
  • Garfield County: 1

Hospitalized: 21

Tested: 21,018

Recovered: 908

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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