SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reported another 3,395 COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths on Saturday.
The new cases were confirmed out of 16,270 people tested, with a 20.1% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 3,229 per day, and the average positive test rate is 23.7%.
On Saturday, 551 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, which is 18 more than were hospitalized the previous day.
Meanwhile, universities across the state continue working to test students ahead of Thanksgiving as part of Gov. Gary Herbert’s recent health order, which requires colleges to implement weekly testing for campus residents and those who attend at least one in-person class per week. Universities must get their testing programs rolled out no later than Jan. 1.
To help tackle the large testing order, Brigham Young University nursing students volunteered to help this weekend after 8,000 students signed up to get tested before the holiday. The nurses-in-training signed up to fill 144 shifts within a few hours, said Julie Valentine, BYU nursing faculty member.
Even as they face their own busy schedules, the student nurses volunteered for the project, meaning they each will give 200 students rapid antigen tests every 30 minutes for nine hours each day, according to university officials.
“This is what we do as nurses. As we jump in, and we help when help is needed,” Valentine said.
“It warmed my heart. I mean, it just made me think, ‘What amazing nurses they will be, that they saw a need, that they saw nursing care and health care was needed.’ And they said, ‘All right. Tell us what to do,’” Valentine recalled.
Those who test positive for the disease at Utah’s colleges will need to stay in isolation, officials have said.
Under national standards, those who test positive and have mild symptoms can exit isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms — that is, if they no longer have a fever and if their symptoms are improving, said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, Intermountain Healthcare infectious disease physician.
Those who have severe disease need to isolate for 20 days, he said. But those who are asymptomatic but test positive need to isolate for just 10 days after the date of their test, according to Stenehjem.
The deaths reported Saturday bring the state’s toll to 787. Seven were Salt Lake County residents: four men between 65 and 85, three of whom were hospitalized when they died, and one who was a long-term care resident; a woman between 65 and 84, and a woman older than 85, both of whom were long-term care residents; and a woman between 25 and 44, who was hospitalized when she died.
Two Weber County man also died, one who was older than 85 and a long-term care resident; and one between 65 and 84, who was hospitalized when he died.
The deaths also included: a Utah County man older than 85, who was a long-term care resident; a Wasatch County man between 65 and 84, who was also a long-term care resident; an Emery County man between 65 and 84, who was hospitalized when he died; a Washington County man between 45 and 64, who was hospitalized; and a Sevier County man between 65 and 84, who was not hospitalized.
To date, 173,979 cases have been confirmed out of 1,315,034 people tested tested in Utah, with a 13.2% positive rate. Hospitalizations since the outbreak began total 7,458.
Contributing: Mike Anderson