WATCH: Utah officials urge residents to do their part as COVID-19 cases climb

Oct 29, 2020, 11:49 AM | Updated: 12:17 pm
utah cases climb...
Gov. Gary Herbert addressed the public remotely on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. Photo: KSL NewsRadio via Facebook Live

SALT LAKE CITY — Ten more Utahns have died as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Utah. Thursday, the state reported an additional 1,837 cases of the virus and a seven day rolling average of percent positive test results of 18.1%. 

Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, and other state government and health leaders warned state residents to do their part to keep coronavirus from spreading over concern that hospitals could quickly become overwhelmed.

Speaking directly to Utah residents, Herbert expressed his frustration with the continuing pandemic. 

“We know the pandemic is very disruptive in our lives. It’s getting old,” he said.

But he added the hospitals are struggling.

“They can’t keep up,” Herbert said. 

Encouraging Utah residents to wear masks and continue social distancing as COVID-19 cases climb, Herbert sounded stern. 

“This is no longer a polite request,” he said of masks. “It is a requirement.” 

COVID-19 cases climb in Utah 

The ten additional deaths reported on Thursday represent Utahns who lived in every corner of the state. They included: 

  • One Beaver County woman between the ages of 65 and 84 who was not hospitalized at the time of her death 
  • One Emery County man between the ages of 65 and 84 who was not hospitalized at the time of his death 
  • One Juab County man between the ages of 65 and 84 who was hospitalized at the time of his death 
  • One Piute County woman between the ages of 65 and 84 who was hospitalized at the time of her death 
  • One Salt Lake County man between the ages of 25 and 44 who was hospitalized at the time of his death 
  • Two Salt Lake County men between the ages of 45 and 64, both hospitalized at the time of their deaths 
  • One Salt Lake County man between the ages of 65 and 84 who resided in a long-term care facility 
  • One Utah County woman over the age of 85 who resided in a long-term care facility 
  • One Washington County man over the age of 85 who was not hospitalized at the time of his death

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,837 Utahns tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, for a total of 110,640 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

State officials say Utah hospitals currently house 317 Utahns for COVID-19 treatment. According to, 123 of those patients require intensive care unit treatment. 

A warning from hospital leaders 

Dr. Mark Shah, an emergency room physician, said patients who need care for other ailments beyond COVID-19 should understand what overwhelming the health care system would mean. 

For COVID-19 alone, he stressed the virus is not just the cold or the flu. 

“About 5% of patients will likely be hospitalized. And 20% to 30% go on to require intensive care,” Shah said.

Shah said Utah has already begun asking other states for help and moving patients around to relieve stress on the hospitals bearing the brunt. 

“We are diverting patients away from hospitals that are stressed,” Shah said. “These contingency efforts may fall short.” 

The challenge, he pointed out, goes beyond available beds: staffing affects how many patients a facility can treat. COVID-19 patients and those needing attention for other conditions may not get the care they need simply because the hospital doesn’t have enough staff. 

“I understand the negative impact this can have on patients and providers,” Shah said. 

An impossible choice

Crisis standards of care could mean facilities must choose which patients receive treatment. 

“In times of scarcity we need to do the greatest good for the greatest number,” Shah said, a decision he noted includes the probability of survival. “We cannot continue to argue about masking. We cannot continue to argue about whether this pandemic is real or made-up.” 

“This is about heart attack patients who might not be able to get into a hospital quickly enough to get treatment. This is about patients waiting hours and hours for emergency care or surgery,” said Rich Saunders, the director of the Utah Department of Health. “Our hospitals are obviously still caring for patients. But they are stretched very thin, and we’ve got to join together to alleviate this problem.”

Herbert said he understood Utah’s mortality rate remains low, but that should not mean Utahns ease up in proper precautions. The national mortality rate remains about five times higher than Utah’s; however, he said long-term ramifications from the virus also pose concerns. 

“It’s not just mortality we should be concerned about,” Herbert said, talking about his 13-year-old grandchild who, weeks later, still does not have a sense of taste. 

“The information we have heard today is sobering. We have been transparent and forthright from the beginning. We have been telling the public since the beginning of the pandemic that we could overwhelm our hospitals,” Herbert said. “We are far too close.”

This story is developing and will be updated. 

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Doctoral student Suzi Creveling talks about her work on the Utah Bionic Leg in the new University o...
Mark Jones

University of Utah researchers unveil Utah Bionic Leg

The Utah Bionic Leg, unveiled Wednesday, was developed by researchers at the University of Utah,
20 hours ago
Rounds missing Box Elder County...
Mark Jones

Deputies say evidence pointing to homicide likely in case of Dylan Rounds

Deputies with the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office say evidence in the case of missing 19-year-old Dylan Rounds supports that a homicide likely took place.
20 hours ago
Protestors at the stolen piglets trial...
Elizabeth Weiler

Two men accused of stealing dying piglets from Utah farm face charges

The trial involving two stolen piglets is underway in St. George. The suspects are facing ten years or more in prison if convicted.
20 hours ago
paramore attack great saltair...
Simone Seikaly

Paramore condemns reported homophobic attack at concert

Paramore said the attack happened outside of their view and that they didn't find out about it until after the show.
20 hours ago
rust alec baldwin...
ANDREW DALTON AP Entertainment Writer

Lawsuit settled, filming of “Rust” may resume after Alec Baldwin shooting

Matthew Hutchins, widow of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, says filming will resume on "Rust" in January with the same principal players.
20 hours ago
best before labels...
DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writer

Keep it or toss it? ‘Best Before’ labels cause confusion

Manufacturers have used the labels for decades, but some say "best before" labels have nothing to do with safety and that they encourage food waste.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
WATCH: Utah officials urge residents to do their part as COVID-19 cases climb