Bear River Health Department officials suspect testing delays due to multiple coincidental factors may be behind a spike in new COVID-19 cases reported toward the end of this week.
“We hope we see a more leveling out coming,” said BRHD spokesperson Josh Greer. “That’s our guess right now. So we’re not seeing anything in particular that we’re pointing at.”
After relatively low numbers for about a month — not counting another spike BRHD officials attribute to an outbreak at the Cache County Jail — Thursday saw 34 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the health district and 45 new cases Friday.
The new data bring the 7-day rolling average up to 19, the highest it’s been since Aug. 10.
Health officials are keeping an eye on the situation, but so far they’re hoping the numbers are catching up after multiple factors coincided to delay test results, according to Greer.
For one, many testing centers were closed for the Labor Day holiday. Then, a storm brought strong “downslope winds” on Monday night and Tuesday, knocking out power to thousands of residents and uprooting several trees. These events likely meant that some people with symptoms couldn’t get tested on those days and showed up at testing centers afterward.
“So what we’re hoping is that this is just kind of overlap from that,” Greer said, of people “going and getting tested later and so we’re showing a few days’ worth of people that would have spread out showing up in one or two days.”
Another factor, Greer said, is that Utah State University has started its own testing programs, and at least about a dozen of the cases reported this week had been slow getting into the state’s reporting system as those efforts got underway.
One good sign in recent data is that most new cases are in the 18-60 age range, which Greer said hopefully means that local K-12 schools are still seeing low impact from resuming in-person classes.
A new part of BRHD’s antiviral efforts include a drive-up flu shot clinic at the church parking lot east of the health department, at 720 E. 1300 North, Logan. Greer said people ready with patient information forms and insurance cards can get the flu shot without leaving their vehicles from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday- through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.
“I know when the COVID vaccine does arrive, they’re saying there’s got to be a certain amount of time in between getting your flu shot and your COVID vaccine,” Greer said.
For more information on curbside immunizations and to fill out the patient information form, visit brhd.org/curb-side-immunizations.
In line with the trend throughout the pandemic, most of the new cases reported Thursday and Friday were from Cache County. Box Elder County only accounted for 10 of the 79 cases for those two days. Rich County has reported no new cases since Aug. 19 and has only detected 11 cases total over the course of the pandemic, all of which are now estimated to have recovered.
There are an estimated 340 active cases in the three-county health district, where a cumulative total of 2,782 cases of COVID-19 has been repoted.