SALT LAKE CITY — Utah surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 deaths for the first time Thursday as the state health department reported 3,401 new cases and 21 more deaths.
A total of 1,016 Utahns have now died from the disease, according to the Utah Department of Health.
“We mourn each and every one of those losses,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said at a Thursday news conference.
While he acknowledged the grim deaths milestone, the governor noted that the daily COVID-19 case numbers are lower than health officials expected after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Utah’s rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 2,816, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 26.2%. There are 554 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, state data shows.
Thursday’s totals give Utah 225,946 total confirmed cases, with 9,187 total hospitalizations.
Also Thursday, state officials announced a new COVID-19 contact tracing process. Herbert also announced that Utah teachers have been moved to the front of the line to receive vaccines in the first phase of Utah’s rollout, along with health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
Teachers and other school staff will be inoculated by the end of December or early January, Herbert said. The altered timeline for teachers not only will protect them and keep their classrooms safe, but will also help schools avoid the disruptive “ping pong effect” of moving back and forth between in-person and at-home instruction, he added.
“We need teachers to be able to teach,” the governor said. “This will help minimize disruption for families at home.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, along with Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, health department immunization program manager Rich Lakin and Governor’s Office of Management and Budget interim executive director Phil Dean, provided a COVID-19 update at a news conference Thursday morning.
Watch the replay of the news conference below.
This story will be updated.
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Gov. Herbert, state officials provide Utah COVID-19 update as state sees 3,401 new cases, 21 deaths /p>