‘Edge of an outbreak’: Experts say Utah’s COVID-19 cases will continue to rise

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) –  Some researchers project the coronavirus pandemic will continue to trend upward in Utah and if they’re correct, things will be much worse a little over three months from now.

So far Utah’s highest daily case count was 643 on Saturday, June 20th but imagine nearly three times that many, 1859, on October 1st. That’s the projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which also projects Utah’s COVID-19 deaths will climb from the current 158 to 617 by that date when we could see between 8 and 9 deaths per day in the state. 

Dr. Lindsay Keegan, PhD and her colleagues at the University of Utah Epidemiology Department run similar models and while they don’t share their projections with the public, she says their data is similar to the IMHE’s

“That’s pretty in-line with our expectations based on if we stay on the current track,” Dr. Keegan told ABC4 News. “I don’t think we’ve even started approaching a peak yet.”

Dr. Keegan says the state has not had a widespread outbreak of coronavirus but we’re on the precipice of one.

“We’re sort of on this teetering point where we’ve seen some really high days and then we’ve seen it come back down,” Dr. Keegan said. “We’re sort of on the edge of an outbreak and it’s concerning…we sort of want to keep this low level of spread until we get a vaccine or a treatment to keep people from overflowing hospital beds.”

Utah, a state of 3.2 million people, currently has 171 Intensive Care Unit beds and the IMHE projects 113 of them to be needed of October 1st.

“If we get to a point where hospital beds get to be limited, we’re going to see sort of what happened in Italy or New York,” Dr. Keegan said. “Where the mortality rate jumps way up because people are not receiving the levels of care that they are now when our hospital beds are not full.”

Dr. Keegan says human behavior can drastically change those statistics and with proper hygiene and social distancing, people can lessen that approaching peak in cases.

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