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COVID-19 appears to slow in Utah and the U.S., while some places may have hidden epidemics

Posted at 5:45 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 19:45:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY — COVID-19 is showing some signs of slowing in Utah, while a new study out of the University of Texas suggests that parts of the state may be undercounted by a wide margin.

The University of Texas researchers used county-level data provided by the New York Times and current understanding of contagiousness to estimate the likelihood of transmission in every county in the U.S. They conclude that even counties with no reported cases have a 9% chance of an epidemic existing but undetected. One known case increases that likelihood to 51%.

Utah currently has seven counties that have not yet confirmed a case of COVID-19: Rich, Daggett, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne and Beaver.

The overall count in Utah is increasing at diminishing rates when you look week to week.

What does that mean?

Utah’s cases doubled in the last seven days. That’s not good. But it’s better than the prior week when cases tripled, and the week before when cases increased six times.

It’s also better than our neighbors in hard-hit Colorado where cases increased 2.2 times last week and 3.9 times the week before.

Nationally, cases increased 2.5 times last week and 4.2 times the week before.

Decreasing the rate of increase is the goal, and it’s great news if further testing shows it’s really happening. That said, the numbers will increase even if rates decline, and the coming weeks and months will be painful and will test our patience.

Also, more available testing may show a wider spread of the virus. The U.S. still lags behind other countries like Italy, Germany and South Korea when it comes to per-capita testing.