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More than 30,000 Utahns received coronavirus vaccines on Thursday, as the total number of vaccinations rose closer to 1 million. And the number of residents who have been fully vaccinated reached almost 340,000.
Not all the news is good, however. The Utah Department of Health reported two more deaths, and the number of Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped by 17.
Vaccinations administered in past day/total vaccinations • 30,300 / 967,481.
Utahns fully vaccinated • 339,743.
Cases reported in past day • 519.
Deaths reported in past day • Two. Both were Salt Lake County men: One between the ages of 45-64, the other 85-plus.
Hospitalizations reported in past day • 184. That’s up 17 from Thursday. Of those currently hospitalized, 66 are in intensive care units — unchanged from Thursday.
Tests reported in past day • 5,780 people were tested for the first time. A total of 13,535 people were tested.
Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 9%. That’s slightly higher than the seven-day average of 8.4%.
Its new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Friday’s rate is now at 3.8%, lower than the seven-day average of 4.02%.
[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]
Totals to date • 377,492 cases; 2,017 deaths; 15,049 hospitalizations; 2,279,263 people tested.
A leading Utah doctor said Friday that recent declines in COVID-19 case counts should give Utahns hope, but he warned that the coronavirus may not follow timetables set by political leaders.
“There’s no difference between April 9th and April 10th — it’s a random date,” Dr. Todd Vento, medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s infectious diseases telehealth services, said Friday during Intermountain’s weekly community briefing on Facebook Live.
April 10 is the date Utah lawmakers have set to end statewide mask mandates, in a bill that passed both houses with veto-proof majorities earlier this month. Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to sign the bill, despite expressing reservations about it.
“I wouldn’t look at April 10 as anything different, from my own personal protection and for others’ personal protection,” Vento said. “If I’m out in public, I should probably be careful if I’m going into a place that has 100% occupancy now, and I don’t know their ventilation system, and people aren’t wearing masks.”
Cox has also declared that all adult Utahns will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine by April 1. President Joe Biden announced Thursday, in a nationally televised speech, that he’s directing states to make the vaccine available to all adults by May 1.
Those dates “are all very positive signs,” Vento said. The optimistic schedule “reflects the fact that they know the pipeline [for vaccines] has been increased quite a bit,” he said.
Biden’s statement Thursday — that by July 4, “there’s a good chance you, your families and friends, will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day” — is another optimistic signal, Vento said.
“I thought he said it in a way to put a point of hope out there, something to shoot for,” Vento said. “But also the caveat that, ‘Hey, we’re not out of it yet.’ … That’s what we’re going for, but we’ve still got work to do.”
That work, Vento said, includes getting the vaccine when available, and continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing — even when government rules are lifted.
“We all want the black-and-white answer,” Vento said. “This is gray. This is the real world. This virus has changed so much and taught us [so much] — unfortunately at the expense of individuals becoming sick and dying, and being hospitalized.”