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Cox tests positive for COVID as Utah confirms 484 average daily cases over past week

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference in Salt Lake City on April 21. Cox announced Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference in Salt Lake City on April 21. Cox announced Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19, as the state confirmed a seven-day average of about 484 new cases each day in the past week.

"After dozens of exposures and hundreds of tests, I finally got that second line. I will be isolating for the next five days — so far, no serious symptoms and I'm grateful I'm vaxxed and boosted," Cox tweeted.

The governor said he feels "fine" and plans wear a mask for 10 days.

The Utah Department of Health on Thursday announced 3,385 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past seven days. One additional death was also reported. The count does not include Utahns using home tests.

Though cases are on the rise, the state health department still says each county as a whole is seeing low community levels of the disease. But smaller demographic areas including southwest San Juan County, Washington, southwest Salt Lake County, Park City and Farmington are experiencing new case rates considered "very high," according to state data.

Cox began feeling a "scratchy throat" late Wednesday and got tested Thursday morning, his office said.

"Like so many Utahns, I've been vaccinated and boosted, but COVID eventually touches us all. If you feel sick, please stay away from others. And if you haven't yet, please get vaccinated," Cox said in a statement.

The governor is notifying people he was in close contact with, as he had various public appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday. But his office said "very few people" at those events would be considered exposed to the virus, as they would have needed to be within 6 feet of him for 15 minutes or longer, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Cox's family members are up to date on their vaccinations, the statement said, and don't need to quarantine but plan to wear masks as well for the next 10 days. None have tested positive for COVID-19.

Utah Department of Health officials said the governor testing positive for the disease "is a good reminder that the disease is still circulating in our communities."

"Most people who are infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, especially if they are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective, and provide protection against serious disease," state health officials said.

While 70% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose, health officials contend that too many people still need to get the second dose, and just 28% of Utah residents have received a booster shot, "meaning they do not have the best protection from COVID-19."

According to the weekly update issued Thursday, 100 more people in Utah have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic. In all, there have been 34,447 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Utah, according to the health department.

The rate of emergency room visits for COVID-19 increased from 1.25% to 1.53% over the week. Wastewater levels are also elevated at 66.7% of testing sites throughout the state — up from 59.4% two weeks ago.

On Thursday, 77 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus, 12 of whom were in intensive care units.

Since March 2020, the state health department has confirmed 938,864 COVID-19 cases and 4,761 deaths due to the disease.

Now 5,135,865 vaccine doses have been given in Utah, and 67.1% of residents ages 5 and older are considered fully vaccinated.

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A lifelong Utahn, Ashley Imlay covers state politics and breaking news for KSL.com.

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