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Utah health leaders predict increase in COVID-19 cases

Officials with University of Utah Health are predicting an increase in statewide COVID-19 cases over the next couple of weeks. (PHOTO: KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials with University of Utah Health are predicting an increase in statewide COVID-19 cases during the next couple of weeks.

An increase in COVID cases could be coming

The outlook comes after some areas, including Davis and Wasatch counties, have already experienced an uptick in positive cases.

Dr. Russell Vinik, of University of Utah Health, said health-care workers are closely monitoring the U.K. variant of the coronavirus.

“As of last week, the signals indicate that about 40 percent of the positive cases that we diagnose are the U.K. variant,” said Vinik. “That’s a very rapid increase, and that likely is contributing to the increase of cases we’re seeing statewide and may have something to do with the pockets we’re seeing as well.”

Additionally, he thinks the moderate increase in cases for Davis and Wasatch counties are a precursor of things to come on a larger scale.

“We do expect to see cases to be increasing over the next few weeks, particularly as the U.K. variant is growing so quickly,” he said. 

Symptomatic hospitalizations staying steady

Despite some troubling trends in case counts, the good news is that hospitalization rates have been staying fairly steady. 

Data provided by University of Utah Health show 32 symptomatic patients across its system last week. Going back the previous three weeks, that number has never been higher than 33 or lower than 29.

When narrowed to just U of U Health’s Redwood Road location, which addresses a more underserved community, there were only 8 symptomatic patients last week. 

Vinik added that the state is continuing to move closer to herd immunity. It should be a realistic achievement if the vaccination trajectory remains steady.