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More than 3,000 Utahns have now died from the coronavirus, with young patients now succumbing to COVID-19 at a faster rate than even before a vaccine was available.
The Utah Department of Health reported 31 more deaths in the past four days on Tuesday, bringing the total to 3,025 since the start of the pandemic. The state no longer reports COVID-19 numbers on weekends or holidays, and it did not specify when Utah hit the 3,000 death mark.
About 100 of the last 1,000 Utahns who died from the virus were under 45 – more than double the share of deaths before February. Of the 31 deaths reported on Tuesday, four were under 45 and 10 were under 65.
And it’s not just that fewer elderly patients are dying in the coronavirus vaccine era. The actual number of young patients dying has increased precipitously.
From mid-August to early October, seven patients between the ages of 15 and 24 died, according to the Utah Department of Health – more than triple the previous peak of 45 days. During the same period, more than 40 Utahns between the ages of 25 and 44 died; the previous 45-day peak, in December 2020, was only 33.
[Read more: Coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations surge in southwest Utah as vaccine rates remain low]
These increases occur even as the Utahns are increasingly immune, whether through vaccination or past infections. Vaccination rates among young adults range from around 50% to 65% – and have been about as high for almost a month and a half, while death rates in these age groups have peaked.
Meanwhile, the state has not recorded any deaths of vaccinated Utahns under the age of 50. That means deaths among younger Utahns are skyrocketing to an all-time high, even with a susceptible population less than half of what it was in previous peaks.
“We have certainly seen more cases of critical illness in the younger population with [the delta variant]Said Dr. Brandon Webb, Infectious Disease Specialist for Intermountain Healthcare. “We’ve seen this in the older adolescent / young adult population, and a lot more hospitalizations among school-aged children. This raises the question of whether the delta is not only more transmissible but also more virulent in certain age groups. “
Determining this is more complicated than simply comparing hospitalizations and deaths to the number of cases, Webb said. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is possible that young people with risk factors like obesity, respiratory illnesses or smoking get vaccinated at a lower rate than low-risk populations. This would mean that the remaining group of susceptible people are, on average, at higher risk for serious illness.
Many vaccinated people who would have had mild cases of COVID-19 do not appear in the case tally at all, which can make the death rate or hospitalization rate per case appear higher even without the virus itself. even is no longer fatal.
Researchers have yet to disentangle vaccination trends from risk factors, Webb said. But it’s possible, he said, that the same characteristics that make the delta variant more transmissible also make it more dangerous.
“We know it’s much more prolific as a virus; it’s reaching very high viral levels, ”Webb said. “Much higher viral levels can cause the immune system to crash faster. More marauders attacking the castle gate makes it very likely to cause more serious illness, even in young people. “
Many young patients and their families are taken aback when they find themselves in intensive care or on a ventilator.
“It’s a huge eye-opener,” said Webb. “We see this every day in the hospital, where patients admit that they just didn’t think they were at risk of having such a serious illness.”
This surprise may, in part, be a normal feature of youth. “It’s definitely a tendency of young people to underestimate the risk of behavior in general,” he said.
But young adults often don’t consider themselves to be at high risk, especially for severe illness from COVID-19, when they actually are.
“There are many adults who are generally healthy, who have not had serious illnesses, but who are overweight, who are obese, who may have high blood pressure or unrecognized pre-diabetes, and who simply never considered themselves to be unhealthy, ”Webb mentioned. “But from a COVID standpoint, this virus doesn’t care. He sees the obese middle-aged man as a prime target. I think it’s really important for working-age adults to understand that while they usually haven’t suffered from a serious illness, they can have serious risk factors.
This can be especially true in Utah, where adults of all sizes tend to be active.
“There are many very active adults with a BMI over 30 who, because they are active and have been generally in good health, considered themselves to be less at risk than SARS COV-2 considers them,” Webb said.
Utah’s 3,000th COVID-19 death comes nearly 19 months after the first Utahn died from the coronavirus. The 1,000th death from COVID-19 in the state was reported on December 10, 2020 – 263 days after the first death on March 22, 2020. The 2,000th death from the coronavirus in Utah occurred 91 days later on the 11th. March 2021. The 3,000th death occurred reported 215 days after the 2,000th.
The Department of Health also reported 4,366 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday – 1,244 Friday, 860 Saturday, 1,221 Sunday and 1,101 Sunday. The seven-day moving average for positive tests is 1,399 per day.
An additional 8,498 Utahns have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in the past four days, bringing the total to 1,715,053 – 52.4% of Utah’s total population.
Intensive care units in Utah hospitals have a capacity of 93% and 46% of patients in intensive care beds are hospitalized with COVID-19, the Department of Health reported.
Vaccine doses administered in the last four days / total doses administered • 27 173 / 3,575,508.
Fully vaccinated utahns • 1,715,053.
Cases reported in the last four days • 4.366.
Cases among school-aged children • Children in kindergarten to grade 12 accounted for 924 of the new cases announced on Tuesday. There have been 481 reported cases in children aged 5 to 10 years; 203 cases in children 11-13; and 240 cases in children aged 14-18.
Tests reported in the last four days • 27,402 people were tested for the first time. A total of 51,961 people were tested.
Deaths reported in the past four days • 31.
There have been 10 deaths in Salt Lake County, the youngest being a man aged 25 to 44. Three men were between 45 and 64 years old, two men and two women between 65 and 84 years old, and a man and a woman were over 85 years old.
There have been four deaths in Utah County – two men aged 45 to 64, a woman aged 65 to 84 and a man aged 85 and over. Weber County has also reported four deaths – two women aged 25 to 44, a man aged 65 to 84 and a woman aged 85 and older.
There have been three deaths in Davis County – one man aged 25 to 44 and two men aged 65 to 84.
Two counties have each reported two deaths – a woman 65 to 84 and a man 85 and over in Sanpete County, and a man 65 to 84 and a woman 85 and over in Washington County .
And six counties have each reported a single death, the youngest being a woman from Emery County aged 45 to 64. Men from Box Elder County and Carbon County, and women from Cache County, Juab County, and San Juan County, were all between the ages of 65 and 84.
Hospitalizations reported in the past four days • 598. That’s 31 more that reported on Friday. Of those currently hospitalized, 219 are in intensive care, 15 fewer than on Friday.
Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 15.9% in the last four days. This is slightly above the seven-day average of 15.7%.
The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeat testing of the same individual. Tuesday’s rate was 8.4%, below the seven-day average of 10.4%.
[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]
Risk ratios • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahns were 14.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those vaccinated, according to a health department analysis. The unvaccinated were also 11 times more likely to be hospitalized and 6.4 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.
Totals to date • 524,556 cases; 3,025 deaths; 22,884 hospitalizations; 3,554,305 people tested.