COVID-19 Weekly Update, November 24, 2020
By: Michael Good, MD | Nov 24, 2020 1:00 PM
Transcript of Dr. Good's COVID-19 Weekly Update, November 24, 2020
Hello, I'm Michael Good, CEO of University of Utah Health, presenting the COVID-19 Update for November 24, 2020. At the national level, trends of prior weeks continue with increasing numbers of new cases each day, although perhaps a decreasing rate of rise. Still increasing on the seven day average, but increasing at a slightly less rate. Similarly, deaths for coronavirus continue to increase with several days over the past week or so with nearly or over 2,000 deaths per day from coronavirus in our country. Similar patterns here in Utah, with continued increase in the number of new cases each day. In the last few days, with a decreasing rate of rise, still increasing, but increasing at a lower rate. Unfortunately, death rates continue to increase. We had several days over the past week or so with near or over 15 deaths per day from coronavirus in the state of Utah.
The increased rate of infection, now we have just under 62,000 individuals with an active infection. If you do the math with our Utah population, that's about one individual in 52 Utahns with an active coronavirus infection. That individual may be symptomatic and know they have an illness, but they also may be asymptomatic. And we really appreciate Erin Klaus on our data team, which has taken this information by age group. So if you take the active infection and you break it down in the various age group cohort, you can see that infants, only about one out of 280,000 infants have an active coronavirus infection. Increasing into one in about 120 individuals in the one to 14. And then as you can see, most common is the 15 to 24 year olds, where one out of 34 Utahns has an active infection. Fairly similar for 25 to 44. A little bit wider for 45 to 64. And then, as you can see, the 65 to 85, one in 76. And the one in 85 and older, one out of 69. Overall, one out of every 52 Utahns currently with an active coronavirus infection.
I mentioned the increased number of deaths in our state, and this is indeed an unfortunate and worrisome trend. And the seven-day average, the seven-day rolling average of deaths from coronavirus, now getting awfully close to the seven-day death rate from cancer. So heart disease and cancer, the number one and number two killer of Utahns, and now unfortunately, a very close third, coronavirus and COVID-19, an increasing and now the third most common cause of death currently in the state of Utah. A little bit, hopefully, encouraging is that after several periods of sustained increase in the percent of positive tests, for about a week, we've leveled off at approximately 23 percent of coronavirus tests showing up positive. So we'll continue to watch this. And while encouraging that it's sustained over the past week, we have had periods in this pandemic, a couple of them shown here, where periods of constant positivity rate on testing have given way to further increases.
So hopefully this trend will hold or perhaps preferably reverse, and we'll start to see a decline in the positive tests. All age groups continue to have increases except for the 15 to 24 year olds. They're right around 150 or so positive tests per 100,000 population. You can see the various age groups that we mentioned before all with increases. We had a little bit of decline here in the 85 and older, but then that has resumed its upward trajectory. So we're seeing increased cases across all age groups, except for the 15 to 24 year olds, which are level, but I will point out are the highest rate of positive cases, again at 150 per 100,000 population. So with the increased cases, we continue to see this very worrisome increase in hospitalizations. We have over 550 Utahns in hospitals today with coronavirus.
Again, a lot of information on this chart. These gray bars are the PCR tests, the laboratory PCR tests. We're adding, as a lot of our new capability is in the antigen tests, some of them point of care, some of them not, those are the yellow bars on top of the gray bars. But again, a lot of positive tests being reported here in Utah. That translates into now with, again, over 550 individuals in hospitals and nearly 200 individuals in ICU beds, this trend of increased patients admitted to ICU beds continued for several weeks. Like some of the other charts we looked at earlier, a decreasing rate of rise, still increasing, but increasing at a slower rate. The number of patients admitted to hospitals does continue to increase without that decreasing rate, and we're getting close to 100 Utahns per day being admitted to a Utah hospital.
So as we've seen in previous weeks, the majority of our statistics, our trends, our data that we follow with this pandemic are moving in the wrong direction here in the state of Utah. At University of Utah Hospital, similar trends. We saw this increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospital peaking. I think our peak census was around 70 coronavirus patients at University of Utah Hospital. That's come down somewhat over the past week. We're now in the 60s, low to mid-60s. You can see on the left chart, we tend to have a lot of day-to-day variability. Here we had several days with eight or nine admissions to our hospital. On Sunday, we had just five patients down here and then on Monday, 17. So still quite a bit of variability in patients presenting for admission. But as you can see, the overall trend is increasing with just about half a week here—so coming back.
If you think about it, this peak does correlate with a couple of weeks or so after the Halloween holiday. These holidays, where we have increased mixing of individuals, the coming together of people who might otherwise not be in each other's companies, we've seen with each of the holidays over the summer and again many attribute this peak that we've had a little bit of a reprieve from Halloween. And as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, maybe just something to keep in mind to help us keep our gatherings very small, preferably with family members of the same household so that we don't two weeks from now create another peak in the various cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from coronavirus. As we complete the in-person portion of the University of Utah fall semester, we continue to have a very low rate of coronavirus on campus. This has crept up a bit. It was hovering in the 20s for a while and now as we complete the in-person portion of our semester, still a very manageable rate, again with many days where we have far fewer reported cases of coronavirus as shown here.
But we also, as this week where we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we have over 10,000 students who have signed up to be tested as they depart campus. And of those, about 8,000 of the 10,000 have already been tested. And what we're seeing in our students is about 1.8 or so percent positivity rate, which it's about that same one out of 50 that I mentioned for the whole state. So we're seeing very similar rates of coronavirus in our student body as we're seeing in our community. About 8,000 out of 10,000 students tested so far as they head out for their break. And again, as I mentioned, the positivity rate running about a 1.8 percent. So I, again, thank our students for all they are doing, our faculty, and our staff to keep coronavirus at a very low and non-accelerating level at the University of Utah campus.
As I mentioned, we head into the Thanksgiving holiday. The basics remain the same. Keep distance. Even in your gatherings, keep distance from one another. This virus jumps from person to person and the more barriers we can place between one another, whether that's distance, whether that's a mask, then distance and mask. Don't forget the meticulous hygiene, the washing of the hands. I sometimes find that I have to remind myself that frequent hand washing is an important part of this. Stay sick when you're home. And most importantly, do our best. We have so much to be thankful for as a university community, as a state, as a nation. We certainly have had our challenges in 2020, but still so much to be grateful for. Let's do our best to keep our groups very small, preferably with those that we live with, and do our best.
In coming weeks, we'll share information with you as the vaccine, the coronavirus vaccine, trials get close to completion, and we are part of the both national and state conversations and distribution plan for coronavirus vaccine. In coming weeks, we will update you on the details of those plans as they evolve. So again, thank you for all you're doing to slow the spread of coronavirus here in the state of Utah, and especially at the University of Utah. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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.