Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you may be aware, the state has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks. While that is concerning, hospitalizations are a much better indicator of the risk to our healthcare system and they have remained relatively stable for several days.
Currently, those testing positive for COVID-19 are mostly occurring in younger populations, which are less likely to result in hospitalization.
Of those individuals who contract COVID-19, 99 percent will recover, with 92.5 percent recovering at home.
It’s really important that we follow health guidelines by maintaining physical distance when we’re out in public and wearing face coverings. These simple actions can protect those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Of the 163 COVID-19 fatalities in Utah:
Utah mortality rate: 0.9 percent, down from 1.0 percent and the lowest in the nation
U.S. mortality rate 5.3 percent
Global mortality rate: 5.2 percent
Median age for fatality: 73
Percent of fatalities with comorbidity: 81 percent
Percent of fatalities with comorbidity and/or 65 plus: 93.4 percent
Percent of fatalities that were long-term-care facility residents: 43 percent
While the state is concerned with the health effects of COVID-19, we have to balance our response, so the solution does not become worse than the disease. The economic impacts alone forced 105,000 Utahns out of work and required the state to cut $840 million from its budget.
During the stay at home initiative, mortality rates rose among non-COVID-19 patients, which could be because many delayed receiving needed preventative care. Mental health issues have increased as well as issues among those with disabilities. Additionally, Utah has received startlingly low reports of child abuse, worrying many that reports are not being made due to increased isolation for children and limited contact with adults outside the home.
A complete shutdown is not a responsible alternative. While there are still many unknowns, we now know more than we did a few months ago and can overcome this virus together. If we follow CDC guidelines and make sure we follow precautions, Utah can stay safe and stay open.
Utah’s unique landscape requires that we use a multifaceted approach to overcoming the health crisis and ensuring individuals and businesses are protected. A one size fits all approach doesn't work in this state. For example, as of June 25, Southeast Utah has had zero hospitalizations for COVID-19 and Central Utah has had eight. Due to low COVID-19 cases, these areas are better suited to fully open while still following health guidelines.
Key Data Points
The key data points the state is watching include hospital utilization rates, the transmission rate, rate of community spread and high-risk populations. Health experts, economic advisors and elected officials are reviewing key factors to make data-driven recommendations to protect the vulnerable population and allow the state to continue to transition health risk phases and stay open.
Included below is updated information regarding the three key data factors.
Hospital Utilization Rate
As of June 23, ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in Utah have averaged 13 percent of total capacity for the last 23 days. Hospital bed utilization is a primary indicator of the strain on the state’s healthcare capacity.
The graph below shows Utah’s ICU capacity from May 14 through June 23.
The graph below shows non-ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in Utah.
Transmission Rate and Community Spread
A transmission rate at or near 1:1 for 7-14 consecutive days indicates an adequate level of stability. As of June 24, the transmission rate in Utah was 1.3 and has averaged 1.2 since June 1.
As of June 21, the spread of COVID-19 from known sources has been at 82 percent or greater for the past five weeks. The majority of known spread (60.1 percent) is from household members. Spread from known contacts above 60 percent is an indicator of stability and low levels of community spread.
Of those tested for COVID-19, only about 9-10 percent are currently testing positive. The graph below shows the number of COVID-19’s positive and negative tests from May 14 to June 23.
Lower Restriction Phase
The state is using data to help drive decisions on when parts of Utah can move to a lower restriction level of the Utah Leads Together 4.0 plan.
Green is a lighter restriction level, it does not mean business as usual. Though the state is transitioning to different phases, Utahns still need to take precautions, including physical distancing and wearing a face-covering in public to protect high-risk populations, washing hands often and staying home when ill.
Utahns and Utah businesses disrupted their lives and livelihoods to slow the COVID-19 spread in order to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed. The state has been successful in this effort as hospital capacity has remained stable.
As the state continues to transition phases, those in the high-risk categories should continue to take precautions and exercise all possible caution. While cases will likely increase, though, as long as Utah hospitals remain stable, together, we can continue to protect the vulnerable and keep our economy open while transitioning.
As of June 29 Utah's private and public laboratories have administered 333,905 tests with 21,664 testing positive. There have been 168 fatalities, with an estimated 12,205 recovered. Additional information can be found here.
Utah County Dept Health
Total Cases: 3,850
Total Tested: 60,572
Estimated Recovered: 2,300
The Utah Hospital Association, in collaboration with Utah’s four largest healthcare systems, are joining together in a collaborative effort to encourage the use of face masks in public and work settings throughout the state with the #MaskUpUtah campaign. More information here.
On June 19, nine rural counties' requests to transition from yellow (low) restriction status to green (new normal health restriction status), including Beaver, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Millard, Piute, Uintah and Wayne were approved. Read more here.
The state released COVID-19 polling guidance to keep Utahns safe when voting. Read the guidance here.
Anyone in Utah experiencing the following flu-like symptoms should get tested for COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and chills, or decreased sense of smell or taste. To find a testing location near you, click here.
During the 2020 legislative session, we passed S.B. 111, Higher Education Amendments, which merged the Utah System of Higher Education and the Utah System of Technical Colleges into one system. For those who have questions about this change, more information and FAQ can be found here.
In the News
I Look Forward to Hearing From You!
I'll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re also welcome to join me at the Capitol and if you’d like to meet with me in person outside of interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at email@example.com. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,
Senator Dan McCay
Utah Senate District 11