HEALTH

COVID-19 deaths in Utah: Who were the people that we’ve lost?

Feb 22, 2021, 5:29 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2021, 10:00 am
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Utah National Guard Spc. Braden Kocherhans prepares to administer a COVID-19 test at the Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Photo: Annie Barker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As the United States marks 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the last year, Utah marks far fewer deaths from the virus. But they still represent your neighbors and your family members, so we decided to take a closer look at who we’ve lost since the pandemic began. 

Read more: US marks 500K COVID-19 deaths as Utah cases continue to drop

Monday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox ordered flags to be flown half-staff in the state in honor of the 500,000 Americans who’ve died. 

As of Feb. 22, 2021, the Utah Department of Health reported the deaths of 1,853 Utahns attributed to COVID-19 over the last year. All of the data laid out below comes from the health department’s coronavirus case counts dashboard, available here

COVID-19 deaths in Utah by age 

The two age groups hardest hit by COVID-19 deaths in Utah represent our oldest residents. 944 Utahns between the age of 65 and 84 have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak. For residents over the age of 85, the total number, 500, is much smaller, but the rate of death is even higher. According to health department numbers, the COVID-19 mortality rate is 35.32 per 1,000 population in the 65-84 range, but 152.21 per 1,000 population over the age of 85. 

The next highest number of deaths come from Utahns between the ages of 45 and 64, with 331 deaths. That creates a mortality rate of 4.06 per 1,000 population. 

Among the two oldest age groups, total case numbers skew lower than the general population of Utah, while death rates skew higher. For example, nearly 130,000 Utahns between the ages of 25 and 44 contracted COVID-19 in the last year, but that age group only accounts for 72 deaths, or a mortality rate of .55 per 1,000 population. The 65 – 84 age range and 85 + groups combined account for a total of just 30,011 cases in the state, but a majority of the overall deaths, at 1,444. 

covid-19 deaths in utah by age

Graph: deaths by age range, from the Utah Department of Health at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts

Young people continue to represent the age groups with the fewest number of COVID-19 deaths in Utah. To date, 5 Utahns between the ages of 15 and 24 have died as a result of COVID-19, a mortality rate of .06 per 1,000 population.

The number of residents between one and 14 who have died is fewer than five, as is the number under the age of one; health department officials refrained from releasing specific counts for those age ranges to protect privacy, as there are so few of them. 

Deaths by health department

Utah residents in the 1,853 deaths represent every region covered by a health department in the state. 

The health department's website provides this snapshot of case counts over the past 14 days by county. "Red" represents areas where transmission continues to be high. Graphic: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts This chart shows case counts, hospitalizations and deaths by health department region. Image: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts Graph: The Utah Department of Health provides this breakdown of deaths in the state by date of death at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts

The Salt Lake County Health Department, which serves the most populous county in the state, also recorded the highest number of deaths, at 733. The region covered by the Utah County Health Department lost the next highest number of residents, 319. 

However, the region covered by the San Juan County Health Department holds the state’s highest COVID-19 mortality rate, with its 36 deaths. With 1,793 total cases in the county, 36 deaths creates a death rate of just over 2%.

Most health department coverage areas in Utah have a death rate of under one percent. Summit County, with just 8 deaths out of 4,909 cases, has the state’s lowest death rate from COVID-19, 0.16%. 

Deaths by demographic 

Across the board, minority populations in Utah remain the hardest hit in terms of both case counts and deaths from the virus. 

According to health department data, about 78% of Utahns consider themselves white alone, meaning white but also not Latinx or Hispanic. That group accounts for the largest number of deaths, but when looking at the mortality rate per 100,000 population in the state, it was lower than many other groups at 50.6. 

Pacific Islanders make up 1.6% of the population of Utah, but the highest mortality rate per 100,000 population of any group at 109.8. 

Native Americans record the next highest mortality rate of any ethnic group in Utah, with 97.1 per 100,000 population, despite making up just 2.3% of the state’s population. 

The Latinx community, which makes up 14.2% of the population of the state, has a mortality rate of 60.9 per 100,000 population. 

Health data shows Black Utahns, which account for 2.1% of the state population, have one of the lowest mortality rates of any group with 25.4 per 100,000 population. 

Asian Utahns, 3.8% of the state population, record a mortality rate of 48 per 100,000 population.  

Averages and trends 

Overall, Utah continues to see fewer deaths from COVID-19 than the national average. The currently Utah mortality rate stands at 0.5%, compared to 1.8% for the United States as a whole, according to Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins mortality rate chart

This chart from Johns Hopkins University shows the mortality rate from COVID-19 for many countries, including the United States. Source: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

Men continue to be more likely to die than women from COVID-19 in Utah, with a breakdown of roughly 60.9% male to 38.7% female deaths. 

78% of all Utah deaths from the virus affected residents over the age of 65. 

58% of those killed by COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing condition, the health department’s numbers shows. 

57.3% of those who died passed away in a hospital. 

The average age of a person who passed away from COVID-19 in Utah was 74.4, and the median age was 77.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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COVID-19 deaths in Utah: Who were the people that we’ve lost?