Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As crazy as things have been over the last few months, we are making great strides. Preparation has enabled Utah to successfully overcome some unexpected obstacles. For years, our state has planned and administered regular budget stress tests to determine how well our state budget can handle a recession. That forward-thinking gave Utah options during the COVID-19 health crisis and better positioned the state to succeed. Recently, Forbes published an article on what Utah can teach other states during economic downturns. Read the article here.
Right now, Utah has the lowest case fatality rate and the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Looking forward, none of us know what the future may bring. COVID-19 restrictions have impacted mental health, education, healthcare systems, the economy, individuals and families throughout the state in so many ways. As we move toward a degree of normality, we will see those restrictions go down. I’m so thankful for everyone working to find a balanced approach. Utahns have the strength and willpower to overcome this and be even stronger as a state.
The CDC recently released a report showing the types of health conditions and contributing factors leading to deaths involving COVID-19. For 6 percent of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. On average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death for all other COVID-19 cases. The report showed that in 18,116 of 42,587 deaths in the 75-84 age group, the individual who died also had the flu or pneumonia. Read more here.
The graph below shows Utah’s ICU capacity from May 1 through September 1.
State Data (as of September 8th)
Total Cases: 55,359
Total People Tested: 695,347
Total Hospitalizations: 3,242
Total Deaths: 424
Estimated Recovered: 46,722
Utah County Dept Health
Total Cases: 11,430
Total Tested: 132,485
Estimated Recovered: 9,046
Salt Lake City transitioned from orange (moderate) to the yellow (low) restriction phase on Friday, September 4. Since July 13, Salt Lake City’s COVID-19 rate has been trending downward, which goes beyond the CDC and state recommendations of 14-day stabilization or decline in the positivity rate. The governor approved the request and issued an executive order. Read more here.
Rapid Antigen Tests
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has started shipping 150 million rapid antigen tests to states. Rapid testing results are expected in about 15 minutes, which will help make quick decisions to keep individuals safe. HHS has indicated priority groups for these tests should be first responders, K-12 schools, daycares and critical infrastructure. These are groups with frequent interactions with others. Utah is finalizing the state's distribution plan for the rapid tests.
School Response Plans
Tami Pyfer, the governor's education advisor, shared how they worked with schools to be flexible, nimble and prepared. All school and district COVID-19 response plans are posted on their websites. Watch the remarks here, starting at minute 14.
The number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits in Utah for August 23-29 was 4,591, and continued claims filed during that same week were 52,782. There were more than $18 million in benefits paid.
Traditional unemployment insurance new claims decreased by 13 percent from the previous week to 2,603 claims. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance new claims fell by 22 percent from the previous week to 747 claims. Pandemic Extended Unemployment Claims decreased by 26 percent from the previous week to 1,241 claims. Read the report here.
Individuals whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19 can visit jobs.utah.gov/covid19 for resources and information.
Covid-19 Death Certifications
Dr. Erik Christensen, chief medical examiner for the Utah Department of Health, explained how Utah certifies COVID-19 deaths during the weekly update. If medical examiners learn a person didn't die from a condition caused by COVID-19, the death certificate is changed to reflect it. That rarely happens, about 1 percent of suspected COVID-19 deaths. Watch here, starting at minute 24:37. Read more here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent a letter to governors informing them they can expect a COVID-19 vaccine in the fall of 2020. The massive scale of this distribution will require increased cooperation and coordination from state agencies. Read the letter 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