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COVID-19 Weekly Update, September 1, 2020

Sep 02, 2020

Click here for Spanish translation recording.

Transcript of Dr. Good's COVID-19 Weekly Update, September 1, 2020 

Hello, I'm Michael Good, CEO of University of Utah Health. And this is our weekly COVID-19 update. Today is September 1, 2020. And the phrases we'll use a lot in our report today are leveled off, but stable. And we see that leveled off but stable trend when we look at, this is the national view, the number of new positive coronavirus tests each day kind of leveling off in the 42,000 area. And the number of deaths reported each day from coronavirus kind of leveling off, right around a thousand. We see similar trends here in Utah. This is the number of new daily cases of positive coronavirus tests reported, kind of leveled off here in the 350 to 380 range, maybe with a slight upward slant here the last few days, but overall, kind of a leveled off and stable picture. And perhaps on the deaths from coronavirus in Utah, we had a number of days in a row where no new deaths were reported.

And when we look at a seven-day running average, which all these charts are, we begin to see the number of deaths reported coming down. We've talked about, before, that the tests are, if you will, a leading indicator, hospitalizations in the middle, and deaths following later, or a more lagging trend line when it comes to coronavirus. Similarly, with the number of active cases leveling off, but stable, we're kind of here in this just below 8,000 now for the better part of a week. This translates to right around, for every thousand individuals, there's around two-point-five active cases of coronavirus infection per thousand Utahns. So an important number to keep in mind, when you look at a group of individuals, a population, this is what we're seeing statewide. Again, the trend leveled off, we certainly were pleased to see the number of active cases going down, we would hope that that trend would continue, but at the moment it's leveled off, but fortunately stable. Right around two-and-a-half individuals with a coronavirus infection per thousand individuals.

This is the number of positive tests per 100 tests that are run. Last week, we had some eventual corrections of the data reporting, but even with those corrections, the last week and a half or so has seen an uptick in the so-called positivity, the percent of positive tests reported kind of having increased from eight, which was this line right here, now around nine, or even a little bit over nine. We'll show you some closer, higher resolution data here from the University of Utah Health. But at the state level, the long trend is in the positive direction, back here from the days where tests were 10 percent or higher, good progress with lower positivity, but the last week clearly with an uptrend that we'll want to keep an eye on.

So really important chart with the University of Utah, classes resuming in the fall semester. And as we'll say several times, we're now keeping a really close eye on our over 62,000 members of the University of Utah community, and with about 3,400 of that community living on-campus, or said another way, 59,000 members of our community that live off-campus, we're going to take an increased and a focused look at what's happening in Salt Lake County. It's where our university resides and where many, many of our campus community reside. So for example, this is the number of positive tests by the date of test. The top line is for the entire state. And again, we see that leveling off, but stable, just a little bit under 400, around 380, 390 new cases per day, on average. But we break that chart down into the Salt Lake County portion. And we differentiate that from the rest of Utah. The yellow Salt Lake County line, again, being the home of our university. And where many, many of our university community members live.

And again, we see a leveling off, but a stable pattern, right around 150 to 170 new positive tests each day in Salt Lake County. So we're going to pay more attention to that Salt Lake County line in future weeks as the fall semester progresses. We do see a slight upward drift, if you will, in the rest of Utah. And we've talked about before the apparent impact, this is when the mask mandate went into effect in Salt Lake County. And we saw this differentiation between, all through this period, and now kind of reappearing between the number of cases in the trend in Salt Lake County as compared to the rest of the state. So again, leveling off, but stable.

This is an important chart at the University of Utah health in our COVID testing centers. We keep track of which patients have symptoms, and are coming to our testing center because they have flu-like illnesses, particularly fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, those types of things. Those would be what we call symptomatic patients. We keep track of our testing by 1) the symptomatic patients, 2) the asymptomatic patients with an exposure, and then 3) the asymptomatic patients without an exposure. And these would be like the last category would be when we tested the residents of our dormitories, as they arrived, the testing protocols going on with our student athletes. And soon we are actually already piloting randomized testing, ways of keeping an eye on the level of virus in our community. But all three of these, testing in symptomatic individuals, testing in the asymptomatic individuals with exposure, often identified through contact tracing, and then the asymptomatic monitoring, all important components of our testing protocols.

This chart shows the symptomatic at our University of Utah health sites. And the first thing you'll notice is there are fewer individuals over the last six weeks experiencing flu-like symptoms to the point where they go get a COVID test. So back here in July, we were typically seeing over 800 patients a day at our testing center that had flu-like symptoms. And as you can see, that's come down into the sevens and the sixes, down into the fives, and here for the most recently full-reported week, we have between 500 and 550 patients. So that's encouraging, there are fewer people in our community that are having flu-like symptoms. Now that's common on the one hand for this time of year, we don't expect a lot of flu in the summer. On the other hand, this is 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic, and it's hard to say so many of our typical patterns have not been followed. But the data show fewer symptomatic individuals showing up, or requesting coronavirus tests.

And, as you can see at our testing sites, a lower average number of positive tests each day. Having been as high as 140 per day, a positive test back here in July, and now for the last three weeks, kind of hovering right around the low 70s. So fewer symptomatic patients seeking testing, and among those a lower percentage of positives. Now again, this is only the symptomatic patients, and it's only one of the three categories of testing that we're doing. Moving to hospitalizations, at the state level, again, leveling off, but stable, and Salt Lake County, again, our focus on Salt Lake County, which is our home, if you will, on the county basis for the university, we continue to see a decline in the number of individuals hospitalized with coronavirus. Those decreasing hospital trends continue here at University Hospital, the University of Utah Health hospital with on most days now, somewhere one, two, three patients being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, which is substantially down from the four, five, six, seven that we saw for much of August and July.

With fewer patients being admitted, our hospital census has decreased from a high of around 45, now down to around 25, and we’re very pleased to see the number of patients in the ICU decreased substantially, with three, four or five patients in the ICU with COVID-19 over the last few days. Really, at that level, the last time we saw that number of severely ill patients was back in the April and May timeframe. So good trends there. We thought we'd go back and as we hit the month of September, do a look over the shoulder. We haven't looked at the cumulative statistics for the pandemic here in Utah since it began. But here's what that board looks like. At the state level now, we have 52,000 individuals who have had a positive coronavirus test. Remember, we showed earlier only about 7,700 of these are still active. So the vast majority of individuals have had their coronavirus infection. We see since the pandemic began, five-point-nine per cent have been hospitalized, or stated another way, if you round that off to six per cent, so 94 percent of Utahns are recovering at home from coronavirus.

And then in the last category, you see the individuals that have passed away from COVID-19 with greater than 99 per cent recovering, eight-point eight per cent mortality overall. And again, if not for non-nursing home, or non-long-term care facilities, that actually gets up over 99.5 per cent. Still a substantial portion of individuals who pass away from coronavirus are in long-term care facilities. So continued attention and continued focus on patients that are at-risk for having hospitalization, and having mortality from coronavirus needs to continue broadly speaking, but also in particular, in long-term care facilities. We now begin to add the monitoring that's going on here at the University of Utah. On we've been talking about, and will continue to point out, this should be your first source of information if you're a member of the University of Utah community with instructions on just about every aspect, we also have the self-reporting form. We are asking members of the community if they get sick, and have acquired a coronavirus test to please report that. And it's a self-reporting form, very easy to use, information about distancing, and face coverings, hand-washing, and so on.

We have on the left side, and this is going to continue to evolve and contain more information. To date, 52 individuals have self-reported a positive coronavirus test. I'm sorry, that is 52 individuals in the past week. In this dashboard, we'll provide you both with the number of self-reported coronavirus tests this past week, and then we'll also show the cumulative number. We began that tracking on August 15, when the majority of our students began to return back to campus. Keep in mind, our campus community is 62,000 individuals. And again, statewide, we're seeing two to three, or two-point-five individuals per thousand. So that puts us somewhere in the 120 to 180 individuals you would anticipate having a coronavirus infection. So we need to continue to keep tracking both again, symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic individuals with an exposure, identified through contact tracing, and then finally asymptomatic testing for the purpose of monitoring our community. So those dashboards will continue. And as I close, again, reminding everybody of these important activities and behaviors that can help slow the spread, and minimize its impact on our campus.

I really want to reemphasize the transmissions that we've seen between healthcare workers involve not staying home when you're sick. So if you have flu-like symptoms, stay home, contact your health provider, and get a coronavirus test ordered. And also, really important:  maintaining distancing wherever we can, really wearing a mask, and keeping our distance from one another can be a very powerful combination for slowing down the virus. Of course, washing our hands will help us not only with coronavirus, but as we get closer to flu season, these same activities have the potential to slow down the non-coronavirus causes of flu in our community as we get into the fall and early winter months.

So that is our corona virus COVID-19 update. Today is September 1, 2020. We'll be back next week with further updates. Thank you for all you're doing to help the University of Utah move forward, while we simultaneously learn to live with coronavirus.


Michael Good, MD

Michael Good is CEO of University of Utah Health, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and A. Lorris Betz Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. A professor of anesthesiology, Good joined U of U Health after more than three decades of teaching, innovation, and leadership at the University of Florida, where he served as dean of the College of Medicine for 10 years.

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