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Utah COVID Cases Rise, University Hospital ICU at 95 Percent Capacity

The intensive care unit at the University of Utah Health hospital has reached 95 percent capacity, according to Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases at the university.



Employees at Spectrum Solutions assembling COVID-19 saliva test kits on September 21 in Draper, Utah. The intensive care unit (ICU) at the University of Utah Health hospital was reported to have reached 95 percent on Thursday, while average daily new cases across the state were on an upward trend in the past two weeks.


© George Frey/Getty Images
Employees at Spectrum Solutions assembling COVID-19 saliva test kits on September 21 in Draper, Utah. The intensive care unit (ICU) at the University of Utah Health hospital was reported to have reached 95 percent on Thursday, while average daily new cases across the state were on an upward trend in the past two weeks.

The hospital provides care for residents in Utah as well as “residents of five surrounding states in a referral area encompassing more than 10 percent of the continental U.S.,” according to its LinkedIn profile.

Speaking at the state’s weekly press conference on Thursday, Dr. Spivak said: “Our hospital is getting full. Our ICU is getting full. It was 95 percent full this morning.”

“As a physician, as a mother and a concerned citizen, I plead with you, wear a mask at all times out of your home.”

The chief executive officer at the University of Utah Health, Dr. Michael Good, said at a Tuesday briefing: “We began in early September seeing this dramatic increase in the number of new coronavirus cases reported each day.

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“Hospital trends across the state, and here at University Hospital, [are] showing increasing hospitalization for coronavirus.

“The increase in the number of deaths is just now starting to turn up…unfortunately, the hospitalization, as measured by the number of people in the hospital, continues to increase.

“Fortunately, we’ve seen a little bit of a leveling off in those that are in the ICU. So, there still is this general trend upward, but with a suggestion of some leveling off in the ICU.”

When questioned at the Thursday briefing about whether more restrictions will be implemented in the state, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told residents to “wait and see.” Herbert is expected to meet with the state’s COVID-19 Unified Command force and legislative leaders next week to discuss which restrictions are working and which are not.

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Confirmed cases in Utah are approaching nearly 82,000, with 501 reported deaths, as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Average daily new cases in the states were on an upward trend in the latest two-week period from September 25 to October 8. The average count began rising sharply from early September, after declining from mid-July and flattening out from early August, according to data compiled by JHU.

Infections were reported to have spread from the state’s younger population to the older residents, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

Across the state, 73 percent of all ICU hospital beds are occupied, compared to 54.5 percent of all non-ICU beds, according to the latest figures published on the Utah Department of Health

Man pleads guilty to murdering University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck

Oct. 8 (UPI) — A Salt Lake City man has pleaded guilty to murdering a 23-year-old student last year after they met on a dating website.

Ayoola Ajayi, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body for the death of MacKenzie Lueck.

Under the terms of the deal, a judge is expected to sentence Ajayi on Oct. 23 to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He avoided the death penalty as part of the agreement.

Defense attorney Neal Hamilton said Ajayi killed Lueck, a University of Utah student, after they met June 17, 2019. Lueck had just returned from her grandmother’s funeral and took a Lyft ride from the Salt Lake City airport to Hatch Park to meet with Ajayi.

Hamilton said Ajayi planned to kill Lueck before they met.

The two traveled to Ajayi’s home, where he tied up Lueck and strangled her until she stopped moving. Officials said she died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Hamilton said his client then burned Lueck and her belongings in his backyard and buried the remains. After police visited Ajayi at his home to question him about Lueck’s disappearance, he then dug up her remains and reburied her in a shallow grave at Logan Canton.

After his arrest a week later, Ajayi told police where her body was buried.

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Utah man to spend life in prison in slaying of college student Mackenzie Lueck

Mackenzie Lueck’s charred remains were found in a shallow grave in Utah.

A Utah man will spend life in prison as part of his guilty plea in the killing of college student Mackenzie Lueck, whose charred body was left in a shallow grave, prosecutors said.

Ayoola Ajayi on Wednesday pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body in connection to Lueck’s June 2019 slaying.

Lueck, a 23-year-old kinesiology major at the University of Utah, met Ajayi on a “sugar daddy” dating website called Seeking Arrangement, according to Ajayi’s lawyer.

Lueck had been missing for nearly two weeks by the time Ajayi was arrested.

“Ayoola Ajayi also pled guilty to Forcible Sex Abuse in a separate case,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement on Wednesday. “Part of the Plea Agreement is that Ayoola Ajayi will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

“The entry of the pleas today starts the process of bringing some closure and a measure of justice to the Lueck family,” Gill added.

In June 2019, after connecting on the “sugar daddy” site, Ajayi and Lueck met at a park. They then went to Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home where he killed her and buried her in his yard, Ajayi’s lawyer Neal Hamilton said, according to The Associated Press.

After police came to question Ajayi, he moved her body to Logan Canyon, over 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Lueck’s charred remains were recovered in July 2019 in a shallow grave in Logan Canyon. Her arms were bound behind her back by a zip tie and rope, prosecutors said.

No motive was released, prosecutors said.

Ajayi will be formally sentenced on Oct. 23, prosecutors said. His attorney could not immediately be reached by ABC News for comment.

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Tech worker pleads guilty in death of Utah college student

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A tech worker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strangling a Utah college student whose disappearance over a year ago sparked a search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard.

Ayoola A. Ajayi acknowledged he planned the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck, whom he met on a dating app and arranged to meet in a park. After they returned to his home, he bound and strangled her, then burned and hid her body while police and loved ones searched for her, his lawyer said in court.

Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a corpse in an agreement with prosecutors that removed the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated kidnapping and obstructing justice.


Ajayi also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a different woman he met on a dating app. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the guilty pleas allow Lueck’s parents to begin to get closure and a “measure of justice.” Gill said the family has asked for privacy.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who belonged to a sorority and was a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing.

She went missing in June 2019, after returning from a trip home to El Segundo, California, for her grandmother’s funeral. Lueck had met Ajayi, 32, on the site Seeking Arrangement, which bills itself as a way for wealthy “sugar daddies” to meet women known as “sugar babies,” his lawyer said. She took a Lyft to meet him in a park, prosecutors have said. Her phone was turned off a minute after the last text and never turned back on.

Ajayi planned the slaying before the meeting at the park and turned off the video in his home-security system before he left to meet her, his lawyer Neal Hamilton said. When they returned to his Salt Lake City home, Ajayi tied her up and began to choke her. She tried to stop him, after which he put a belt around her neck, pushed her onto her stomach and strangled her, the attorney said.

Ajayi then burned her body and buried it in his backyard, Hamilton said. After detectives came to his door to question him, he dug her up and buried her in a shallow grave in a canyon nearly 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.

The search for Lueck went on for nearly two weeks before some of her remains were discovered in Ajayi’s backyard and he was arrested. He later revealed the location of her body in Logan Canyon, where she was found with her arms bound behind her.

A native of Nigeria, Ajayi held a green card that allows him to legally work and live in the U.S., prosecutors have said. He was an information technology worker who had stints with high-profile companies and was briefly

Man pleads guilty to aggravated murder of University of Utah student in exchange for life sentence

The man charged with killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body Wednesday, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.



a close up of a woman: Mackenzie Lueck died of blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner.


© Mackenzie Lueck/Facebook
Mackenzie Lueck died of blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner.

The plea deal takes the death penalty off the table, Gill said.

“Part of the plea agreement is that Ayoola Ajayi will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Gill said.

Lueck was last seen on June 17, 2019. Her body was found tied up in a canyon with a hole in the side of her head. Lueck died of blunt force trauma to the skull, the medical examiner said.

Prosecutors say photos of Lueck were found on Ajayi’s phone, although he claimed not to know her. Police found burned items in his backyard believed to be Lueck’s.

Ajayi also pleaded guilty to a charge of Forcible Sex Abuse in a separate case, Gill said.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Ajayi for comment.

Final sentencing is scheduled for October 23.

Lueck’s parents were informed of the plea deal.

“The entry of the pleas today starts the process of bringing some closure and a measure of justice to the Lueck family,” said Gill.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that Ayoola Ajayi pleaded guilty to a charge in a separate case.

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