COVID-19 Weekly Update, August 18, 2020
By: Michael Good, MD | Aug 19, 2020 8:00 AM
Transcript of Dr. Good's COVID-19 Weekly Update, August 18, 2020
Hi, I'm Michael Good, CEO of University of Utah Health. And this is our weekly COVID-19 update today, August 18, 2020. And, as we've seen the last few weeks, positive trends. Specifically, a decline in the number of new coronavirus cases seen each day here in the state of Utah, continues in a very encouraging way. They are just as the national charts show, similarly, continued declines in the number of new cases each day. So far a continuation of about a thousand new deaths each day at the national level continuing over the past week. So decreasing new cases, a plateau in the number of deaths, either increasing or decreasing. We've talked about the delays or the lags between when cases change, hospitalizations change and deaths from coronavirus change. So again, we'll continue to watch these charts, but so far stable or in the cases, favorable decreasing trends.
As we've discussed before coronavirus affects different states at different times in different ways. Currently in the state by state charts, we see areas such as Hawaii, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, to some degree Wyoming, South Dakota, perhaps Iowa as still red on this chart, meaning they have either increasing or high levels of coronavirus. And many states shown in green with declining new cases. And again, increasing shades of green here for Utah.
This is our new case chart and our daily death chart for the state of Utah. And, even perhaps more pronounced than the national trend, we see declining new cases. Here, the last couple of days, well under 300 new cases each day. Again, a positive trend. And then similar to the national trend, kind of a stabilization of the daily new deaths from coronavirus around four, plus or minus one, each day. So continuation of the previous trends, declining new cases. The last time we had new cases down in the two, three hundred range was back here in the early June timeframe. And then again, as I mentioned, the daily deaths stable at around four.
This is a very encouraging. The declining cases means there are fewer and fewer active cases of coronavirus. Right now at 8,398 active cases that puts us right about 2.6 of every thousand Utahans with an active coronavirus infection. That's down from a peak of 4 down to 3. Now again, 2.6 active infections of coronavirus for every one thousand Utahns.
Our testing positive rate, if you will, the number of positive tests per hundred tests run is hovering right around none per cent. Pretty stable the past week hovering around nine and that's down from ten. So here we are, again, this is the period I'm talking about hovering around nine per cent, maybe a little below. That's down from this nine to ten per cent. And even this period here where we were ten or even approaching 11.
So the trend is in the right direction. I can show you our results. In a minute I'll show you about what our testing is showing here at the University of Utah. This is our real-time reproductive number for coronavirus. And the declining caseload means that our reproductive number has finally dropped down below one and has been sustained there. And with this recent drop below 3-hundred, we've really seen the reproductive number come down well below one. This is something we were commenting on for many weeks and months about the importance to get the reproductive number below one. And indeed it is now for these recent last few days in the zero-point-six, zero-point-seven range. So again, a positive trend there in our reproductive number.
With declining cases, our hospitalization rate has either stabilized in the case of most of the state, shown here. The blue line is the 14-day summation of total coronavirus hospitalizations. But here in Salt Lake County we're seeing a decline in the number of individuals admitted to the hospital. This chart correlates the hospital admission with the address of the patient.
Have to pay attention when you talk about hospitalizations, whether the data are being reported by the location of the hospital or in this case where the patient lives. So if we look at the area where patients live, the Salt Lake County hospitals are seeing a pretty good decline in the 14 day summation of hospitalization and a leveling out is seen statewide.
We watch the ICU-bed census carefully, and like all the measures we've been looking at today we are very pleased to see the number of patients in ICU beds with coronavirus also declining. This is really good news. Obviously, patients that were admitted to ICUs have the more severe forms of COVID-19.
And in a similar fashion. Here's our look at University of Utah Hospital, where after a period of kind of leveling off here at a pretty high level, the last week we've seen a decrease in the number of new admissions to our hospital for COVID-19. With one day here, we had seven admissions right here. But most of the other days, now back to one, two, three, four admissions per day, a level that we've become accustomed to being able to care for these patients at University of Utah Health.
You can see that whether you look at our total census in the hospital, our census on the hospital ward, or particularly our census in the intensive care unit, we've come down from having around 20 patients in our intensive care unit down to ten. So again, a pullback from those peak levels we were seeing two and three weeks ago.
This is the chart I was mentioning about our testing center. These charts show the number of patients and the percentage of positive tests at our community clinic testing sites. And these are for patients who are symptomatic. They're actually presenting with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nasal congestion, basically flu like symptoms. We see two important trends: fewer and fewer symptomatic patients are coming to our testing centers. A suggestion that there is less flu-like illnesses in our community right now.
And the percentage of those tested that turn out to be positive for coronavirus, you can see in recent weeks, have been lower than in the previous period with often more than 12, 13, 14 percent positive. Now, more in the nine or ten per cent positive. So less flu-like illness in our community and of those with blue-light illnesses, a lower percentage of those individuals that are experiencing coronavirus.
And so with this collection of positive trends, declining cases, a declining positive rate, declining flu-like symptoms, fewer active cases, two-point-six active coronavirus infections per thousand individuals, like most of the charts we've reviewed today a very nice downward trend in the seven-day average of coronavirus deaths. And you can see now, well below traffic accidents and actually coming down below the seven-day mortality average for stroke and even suicide. And really closing in on the seven-day average that we see for flus and pneumonias. So that's encouraging to see the Coronavirus numbers like this coming down.
So again, we'll close. Clearly the masks have made a significant difference in our community. We continue to encourage everyone. Everyone to wear a mask and practice the other public health measures that we know really appear to be allowing us to do many more things. When we wear masks, we can be more active and that's really important.
As we begin in the coming weeks to have students return to the campus for the fall semester, please wear a mask. Remember to wash hands, stay physically separated from one another when at all possible. And particularly if you are ill, stay away from others. Get to one of our testing sites and get a coronavirus tests.
Thank you. We'll continue to watch these trends and we'll be back next week with our COVID-19 update. Stay well and stay safe.
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.