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With 4,004 new coronavirus cases reported Wednesday, Utah’s rate of new diagnoses was on the rise again, after a brief decline around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Utah Department of Health reported a seven-day average of 2,611 new positive test results per day, with Wednesday’s increase — the third-biggest single-day jump so far — driving up the average after a few days of dropping numbers.
The state’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 906, with one previous death removed from the list and 17 new fatalities reported since Tuesday:
- A Box Elder County woman, age 45 to 64.
- A Box Elder County man, age 65 to 84.
- A Davis County man, age 65 to 84.
- A Salt Lake County man, age 45 to 64.
- A Salt Lake County woman, age 45 to 64.
- Two Salt Lake County men, ages 65 to 84.
- A Salt Lake County man, older than 85.
- A Uintah County man, older than 85.
- A Utah County woman, age 65 to 84.
- A Utah County man, age 65 to 84.
- Two Utah County men who were older than 85.
- A Washington County man, older than 85.
- A Weber County woman, age 25 to 44.
- A Weber County man, age 45 to 64.
- A Weber County man, age 65 to 84.
Hospitalizations held steady Wednesday, with 571 Utah patients concurrently admitted, UDOH reported.
In total, 8,423 patients have been hospitalized in Utah for COVID-19, matching Tuesday’s record single-day increase of 144.
For those who are sick but not hospitalized, Intermountain Healthcare on Wednesday announced it was joining a study to investigate whether blood thinners could help prevent patients from deteriorating.
“Doctors know that blood clots are a complication of COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Joseph Bledsoe, director of research in Intermountain’s emergency department.
Tiny blood clots that form in the brain, heart, lungs and legs are “thought to be a cause of clinical deterioration or even death” among coronavirus patients, Bledsoe said. Blood thinners like aspirin have been helpful in other conditions that cause blood clots, Bledsoe said.
But the risk of blood clots appear to be particularly high among coronavirus patients, and there hasn’t been enough research for doctors to prescribe blood thinners for patients who aren’t sick enough to go to the hospital.
“A lot of the research around COVID-19 looks at the sickest of the sick,” said Dr. Sarah Majercik, trauma surgeon at Intermountain Healthcare and principal investigator of the Utah study. “This study is unique because it focuses on patients who have never been admitted to a hospital. The information that we get may help doctors keep patients out of the hospital in the future. It may even prevent some of the long-term complications we are seeing from COVID-19.”
For the study, Intermountain researchers are seeking patients between ages 40 and 80 who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days and have symptoms — but aren’t sick enough to need hospital care. Patients will take aspirin, apixaban or placebo pills for 45 days, but they won’t know which type of pill they receive.
For the past week, 22.6% of all tests have come back positive — a rising rate, and one that indicates a large number of infected people are not being tested, state officials have said.
There were 9,434 new test results reported Wednesday, slightly below the weeklong average of about 10,000 new tests per day.
Infection rates were the highest by far in Wasatch County, followed by Sanpete, Utah, Cache and Washington counties. In all five of those counties, at least 1 in every 75 people had tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks — meaning their cases are considered “active.”
Meanwhile, the northern part of Orem had the highest infection rate of any one community, with active cases diagnosed in 1 in every 50 residents.