Undated photo illustration. | Photo by Business Wire/Associated Press, St. George News
ST. GEORGE — As the state nears two weeks since new restrictions have been in effect in an attempt to stem the October rise in infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, Southern Utah has seen a five-day span with six deaths and 484 new infections from the virus, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Thursday will mark the end of what Gov. Gary Herbert called the “circuit breaker” period designed to stem a steep rise in the spread of the coronavirus statewide where masks have been mandatory in moderate and high transmission areas, including most parts of Southern Utah.
David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said because it can take up to two weeks to see any effect of a new policy on the coronavirus based on its gestation period, there is still no way to determine the success, or lack of success, of the new policy.
“The situation is that we’re definitely in a second surge that is larger than the summer and we ask people be patient with the process,” Heaton said.
By far, Washington County accounts for most of that rise in numbers, making up five of the deaths and 420 of the new infections. The rate of infection per 100,000 people in Washington County now exceeds that of Nevada, California, Arizona and New York City.
In the last seven days, the rate of infection per 100,000 people in Washington County is 44.4, according to Utah Department of Health statistics. In comparison, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the same rate in Nevada is 24.7, 10.9 in California, 14.1 in Arizona and 10.2 in New York City.
In contrast to Washington County, the seven-day infection-rate average is dropping in every other area of Southern Utah except for Beaver Country, which along with Washington County was upgraded to a high transmission rate last week.
The 119 new infections in Southern Utah reported Monday was the second-most in one day, while the 32 local residents hospitalized with the virus was the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
There were 84 new infections reported Tuesday, while 31 local residents remain hospitalized. Seven of the 10 highest one-day totals of new COVID-19 infections have been in the last 12 days.
Protest/party against restrictions planned
While the numbers continue climbing, a promoter is holding a “quarantine party/protest” Friday night they say is in protest of “governmental overreach and restrictions.”
The promoter of the “St. Gzy Quarantine Protest” is charging $15 per person for the event that is touted as alcohol-free, drug-free and social distancing-free. Masks are recommended, but not required — which goes against the governor’s orders that require masks be worn for events with 10 or more people in high-risk areas like Washington County.
“That would be in opposition to guidelines,” Heaton said, though he added that the younger attendees that will likely be at the “rave” won’t be as high-risk to themselves, but they have the potential to spread the virus to those who are. “Young people would be low-risk, but if they infected older people, they would be at risk,” Heaton said.
While promoting the event as being in defiance of restrictions against the virus, the event requires all attendees to sign a disclaimer not holding the promoter responsible for any illness or injury caused by the event, including contracting COVID-19.
Messages left by St. George News to the promoter went unanswered.
Initially, the promoter said on their website the event would be in one of the buildings of Washington County Legacy Park. However, multiple officials with Washington County said that is not the case as they say the promoter was denied a permit to hold the event there.
The website now says the location of the event will be announced on the day of the event, though directions still direct attendees to Legacy Park.
COVID-19 information resources
St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.
We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.
Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of Oct. 27, 2020, seven-day average in parentheses)
Positive COVID-19 tests: 6,055 (90.3 new infections per day in seven days, rising since Oct. 23)
- Washington County: 4,843 (78.9 per day, rising)
- Iron County: 940 (7.3 per day, dropping)
- Kane County: 98 (0.4 per day, dropping)
- Garfield County: 101 (2.1 per day, dropping)
- Beaver County: 73 (1.6 per day, rising)
Deaths: 54 (1.1 per day, rising)
- Washington County: 45 (4 new since last report: long-term facility female 65-84, hospitalized female 45-64, hospitalized male older than 85, hospitalized male 65-84)
- Iron County: 3
- Garfield County: 5 (1 new: hospitalized male 65-84 )
- Kane County: 1
Hospitalized: 31 (rising)
Current Utah seven-day average: 1,507 (rising)
Southern Utah counties in high transmission level as of Oct. 22 (masks required, gatherings to 10 or less): Washington (16.7% positive tests, 407.7 per 100,000 case rate), Beaver (15.9% positive tests, 304.0 per 100,000 case rate), Garfield (22.1% positive tests, 649.6 per 100,000 case rate)
Southern Utah counties in moderate transmission level (masks required, gatherings to 10 or less until Oct. 29): Iron (10.9% positive tests, 164.9 per 100,000 case rate)
Southern Utah counties in low transmission level (masks recommended, gatherings to 50 or less): , Kane (8.6% positive tests, 116.7 per 100,000 case rate)
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.