Despite encouragement to not test, Southern Utah sets new COVID record

Nurses and doctors attend to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator, photo location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Despite a recommendation by the governor and the Utah Department of Health to forgo testing if one has symptoms, Southern Utah still set a new pandemic high on Thursday.

Graphic comparing what the top 10 days with the most coronavirus cases in Southern Utah was like as of Jan. 6, 2022 at left, compared to Jan. 20, 2022 at right | Background photo by
mbz-photodesign, iStock/Getty Images Plus; Infographic by Chris Reed, St. George News | Click to enlarge

At the same time, St. George Regional Hospital is closing in on reaching its record for COVID-19 patients set last week and is also once again close to capacity.

The Utah Department of Health reported 722 new infections in Southern Utah on Thursday, the first time there were more than 700 in one day since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The numbers had been expected to drop with Gov. Spencer Cox and the state’s health department asking last Friday for people with symptoms to forgo getting tested and consider that they have COVID-19 due to the prevalence of the virus and the growing lack of testing supplies in the state. Also expected to be a factor was the growth of at-home tests that aren’t counted in the official totals, including tests that can now be ordered for free.

Nevertheless, the numbers continue to climb with a virus variant as contagious as measles.

The 10 worst days of the pandemic have all come since Jan. 5. And David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said the surge created by the omicron variant is far from reaching its peak.

Nurse works with a COVID-19 patient at Intermountain Hospital, Murray, Utah, October 2021 | Photo courtesy Intermountain Healthcare

“We’re certainly in the middle of it,” Heaton said, adding that based on what has been seen with omicron overseas, there may be a drop in infections coming by February. “The pattern of the surge we have seen in other areas are rapidly decreasing, so we expect that to be the case here by the end of the month.”

At this point, however, one area that omicron has differed here from overseas has been in hospitalizations and deaths. While omicron caused no substantial increase in hospitalizations and deaths when it was first reported late last year overseas, local COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are on the rise.

According to hospital officials, as of Thursday morning, there were 276 patients in St. George Regional Hospital, which is eight patients from the capacity of the hospital. Of those patients, 85 were being treated for COVID-19 – five from the record of 90 set last week.

The rate of deaths per day also continues to rise. Seven people have died of COVID-19 since Tuesday in Southern Utah.

Chart shows the percentage chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in a market or restaurant with 50 people in certain cities as of Jan. 20, 2022, according to the Georgia Tech biological sciences department. | Background photos by Pixabay; Graphic by Chris Reed, St. George News | Click to enlarge

According to the Utah Department of Health, there are now 8,835 people in Southern Utah infected with COVID-19. Even with that conservative estimate, experts have said that may be half the actual number of infections. At least 3 out of every 100 people locally are infected with COVID-19 based on the state’s estimate of a population of 261,488 in the five counties combined

And especially if a person isn’t masked and those around them aren’t, the Centers for Disease Control right now says in most of Southern Utah, just the act of walking into a supermarket or a restaurant in Southern Utah will expose a person to COVID-19.

According to the COVID-19 Risk Tool provided by the CDC and the Georgia Tech biological sciences department, the chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in a supermarket or restaurant in Washington, Iron or Beaver counties is greater than 99%.

Southern Utah coronavirus count as of Thursday, according to Utah Department of Health

Note: State recommendation to not get tested if one feels symptoms and the increase of at-home tests make the numbers below an undercount of actual infections.

Positive COVID-19 tests: 55,610 (7-day average of 564.29 per day, up 20.9% in last week)

Active cases: 8,835 (rising since Jan. 18)

  • Washington County (High in Transmission Index): 2,037.17 per 100K rate in 14 days, rising since Jan. 13
  • Iron County (High):  2,460.66, rising
  • Kane County (High): 884.51, rising
  • Garfield County (High): 970.30, rising
  • Beaver County (High): 2,144.65, rising

Hospitalized: 85 (rising, data updated as of Jan. 13)

Deaths: 530 (7 since Jan. 18)

New infections per day in Southern Utah:

  • Friday (Jan. 14): 554
  • Saturday (Jan. 15): 605
  • Sunday (Jan. 16): 527
  • Monday (Jan. 17): 355
  • Tuesday (Jan. 18): 542
  • Wednesday (Jan. 19): 642
  • Thursday (Jan. 20): 722

Current Utah seven-day average: 10,652 (rising)

Fully vaccinated in Southern Utah: 120,023 (45.9% fully vaccinated, no change since Jan. 18)

  • St. George: 49.41% fully vaccinated (+0.04%)  
  • Cedar City: 41.76% (+0.05%) 
  • Washington City: 44.96% (+0.04%) 
  • Ivins/Santa Clara: 52.39% (+0.07%) 
  • Hurricane/LaVerkin: 39.21% (+0.03%)  
  • Enterprise/Veyo/Springdale/Hildale: 44.87% (+0.09%) 
  • Beaver/Garfield/Kane counties: 45% (+0.08%)

Southern Utah schools with active COVID-19 infections as of Tuesday, according to Utah Department of Health

NOTE: Utah Department of Health currently provides only ranges of the number of infections in each district, rather than exact figures. Figures may be an overall undercount as not all infections among students are reported to the state.

    • Washington County School District: 413 to 449 (rising since Jan. 18)
    • Iron County School District: 154 to 160 (rising)
    • Kane County School District: 9 to 15 (rising)
    • Garfield County School District: 3-12 (steady)
    • Beaver County School District: 24-30 (steady)
    • Southwest Utah Charter Schools: 47-59 (rising)
    • Southwest Utah Private Schools: 4-12 (steady)

Schools in red (30 or more infections): Pine View High (Washington), Cedar City High (Iron), Snow Canyon High (Washington), Dixie High (Washington).

Schools in yellow (15-29 infections): Crimson Cliffs High (Washington), Cedar Middle School (Iron), Desert Hills High (Washington), Lava Ridge Intermediate (Washington), Dixie Middle School (Washington), Dixie Hills Middle School (Washington), George Washington Academy (Southwest Utah – Charter), Sunrise Ridge Intermediate (Washington).
Top 5 schools: Pine View High (Washington) 42 active infections, Cedar City High (Iron) 37, Snow Canyon High (Washington) 30, Dixie High (Washington) 30, Crimson Cliffs High (Washington) 28.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get the first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 5 and over. Those 5-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Those who can receive a booster dose: Those who received Pfizer or Moderna at least five months ago and are 12 or older. Those who received Johnson & Johnson at least two months ago and are 18 or older. Booster shots can be of any form of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Southwest Utah Public Health Department have returned to walk-in appointments. Some pharmacies and stores are offering walk-up appointments. Check the links below before going.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

For hours and more information: Click here 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

For hours and more information: Click here 

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

For hours and more information:: Click here

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Call (435) 673-6131 to determine if the vaccine is available.


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketplace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd. and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use to find a location near you

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.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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