UPDATED: St. George Police officer dies of COVID-19

ST. GEORGE — A St. George Police officer died of COVID-19 at St. George Regional Hospital on Thursday afternoon after a two-week battle with the disease.

A file photo of a  view inside one of the rooms in the intensive care unit inside Dixie Regional Medical Center as a nurse in COVID-19 protective gear treats a patient. December 2020, St. George, Utah. | Photo courtesy off Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

Updated July 22, 7:45 p.m. – Information about the officer’s passing has been added. 

Officer Adam Ashworth was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago with COVID-19. He had been in the intensive care unit of the hospital in a medically-induced coma. 

The 39-year-old father of three was an 11-year veteran of the St. George Police Department. He is the 286th person to have died of COVID-19 in Southern Utah since last March and the first in the last week. 

A large police escort took Ashworth from the hospital down River Road to Riverside Drive to the Serenity Funeral Home on 400 East around 7 p.m. As the escort provided a last patrol for Officer Ashworth, a hard rain started to fall. In front of the funeral home, officers were seen hugging.

Before his passing, Ashworth’s sister, Angela Furin, talked in a statement about his tough battle.

“The virus has run a devastating course in his body, and the doctors have said most people in his condition don’t survive this long and that he has an incredibly strong heart!” Furin said. 

“Adam has been a police officer in Southern Utah for the past 11 years, serving his community with integrity and kindness,” she said. “It’s the job he was born to do and he loves every minute of it.”

Two weeks ago, the family said, Ashworth went to the emergency room at St. George Regional for what he thought was a quick visit. 

Then came the positive COVID-19 test. Ashworth’s condition deteriorated quickly. In just a matter of a few days, an admission to the intensive care unit was followed by the word any family dealing with a loved one infected with COVID-19 doesn’t want to hear – intubation.

Ashworth was then placed into a medically-induced coma, which he has remained in for nearly two weeks and remains in as of Thursday afternoon. 

Undated photo of St. George Police Officer Adam Ashworth. | Photo courtesy of Angela Furin/GoFundMe, St. George News

Furin describes Ashworth as being married to the love of his life, Bobbi Anne, on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for Ashworth’s medical expenses. He has two daughters and a son.

St. George News has learned Ashworth was not vaccinated.

Dr. Patrick Carroll, medical director of St. George Regional Hospital, said in a separate interview that as far as age demographic, people like Ashworth are indicative of a majority of the patients now in the hospital with COVID-19.

“The majority of patients are working-class age. These are people with kids at home,” Carroll said. “We’ve painted the picture of it being grandparents in here. It’s not.”

Furin describes doctors as telling her that COVID-19 patients in Ashworth’s condition don’t usually survive this long. Carroll said in the year and a half of the pandemic, strides in treatment have been made. He said while COVID-19 hospitalizations are higher now than they were a year ago, the death rate is lower. 

“There has been a lot we have learned about the virus. The public has had a front seat to science in action,” Carroll said, adding that the other factor in decreased deaths is vaccinations, as those who are vaccinated are not likely to die even in the rare breakthrough cases that may have them hospitalized. 

Monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses, have proven more effective at increasing survival chances for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare, said another factor that may help COVID-19 survival is getting tested as early as possible with just the slightest hint of symptoms. That could allow for earlier treatment with monoclonal antibodies.

“I strongly encourage if you do get sick to get tested. We have a lot of testing opportunities,” Webb said. “Getting tested early can make a big difference.”

In St. George, there is a free rapid testing site on Tech Ridge. But despite rising infection numbers, the site was not exactly robust, with two cars driving up in 30 minutes midday Wednesday.  

A sign on Tech Ridge leads to the TestUtah COVID-19 drive-thru testing site. St. George, Utah, July 21, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Another cost of COVID-19 that is not often talked about that the Ashworth family is now dealing with: the financial one.

Webb said the financial toll can be as long-lasting as the long-hauler physical toll. 

“Even in the 25-44 age group, if they don’t pass away, the costs associated are devastating,” Webb said. “One in six families are in medical debt; a hospitalization for COVID costs at least $25,000.”

Along with the GoFundMe, a benefit concert was also scheduled to be held for Ashworth’s family on Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. at Sugar’s The Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in St. George. Organized by the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. The show will feature well-known local band Apollo’s Army. 

New infections reach century-mark; hospital adds surge ICU again

In the last two days, Southern Utah and the state has seen its highest COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections since January, when the vaccine was first being distributed. 

St. George Regional Hospital. St. George, Utah, March 13, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

St. George Regional Hospital has once again had to open a surge ICU to accommodate the number of COVID-19 patients and the ICU and hospital being at capacity. 

While there are people in the hospital for reasons besides COVID-19, Carroll and other hospital officials said COVID-19 is the reason the hospital and its ICU are full. It may be three months ago, but the day the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU reached zero seems like a distant memory to staff at the hospital. 

“Twenty percent of our hospital is filled with COVID patients and when we look at the ICU in the month of July, every day we are over 90% full,” Carroll said. 

On Wednesday, there were 102 new infections in Southern Utah according to the Utah Department of Health – the first time since January that the number of daily infections locally has gone above the century mark. There were 65 on Thursday.

“We have definitely found ourselves in a sustained surge,” said David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. He added there is good news that the surge has been mostly in Washington and Iron Counties, while the more rural counties of Garfield, Kane and Beaver remain at a low transmission level. 

Iron County currently has the third-highest transmission rate in the state, with a rate of 357.83 infections per 100,000 people. That compares to a rate of 247.25 in the much-heavier populated Washington County to the south. 

File photo of Dr. Patrick Carroll, St. George Regional Hospital medical director, at the groundbreaking of the Hurricane Campus of St. George Regional Hospital on June 16, 2021 Hurricane, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

According to the Utah Department of Health, there are currently 1,105 people in Southern Utah infected with the virus who have been tested as such. Carroll said with fewer people getting tested as of late, that number is likely a lot higher and also shows a high risk for unvaccinated people in Southern Utah at the moment. 

And unvaccinated is the key for what the director of the Centers for Disease Control this week called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Carroll said the “overwhelming” number of new infections continue to be among the unvaccinated and even a larger majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. According to the Utah Department of Health, 64% of Southern Utahns are unvaccinated. The department said that 95% of those being hospitalized are unvaccinated.

Heaton said the local Southwest Utah Public Health Department will no longer be providing daily updates on the number of new infections, switching to a weekly report. Heaton said that doesn’t mean there’s any less urgency. 

“When this started, daily numbers seemed vital. What we have really found if people get too fixated on daily data, people get into arguments and sidelined on one-day changes,” Heaton said. “We think people will pay a little more attention to weekly report.”

The Utah Department of Health will still be providing a daily total of the number of new infections in Southern Utah, though it does not provide county-by-county numbers.

St. George Regional Hospital seen on March 13, 2021. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Carroll said there will not be a return of the BLU-MED tents that went up last year to help accommodate hospital overflow. In the end, the tents were used for other purposes as the hospital has learned to use other spaces within the hospital to accommodate over-capacity, rather than having to erect tents outside. 

But Carroll said no tent could do more to help the hospital capacity than an increase in the number of people being vaccinated would. 

“We know there has been hesitation about vaccines,” Carroll said. “For those of you who have had questions, a million and half people in Utah are there to tell you about its safety and effectiveness.”

Webb said besides the need for more vaccinations, there is the feeling that the “Heroes Work Here” sentiment of support for health care workers has gone away, leaving doctors and nurses feeling more isolated. 

“There’s a sentiment among the health care community that we’re worried about being abandoned,” Webb said. “This has taken its toll psychologically and physically on all of us. We’re struggling with the reality that we’re full again.”

Ed. Note: A previous version of this story said that 95% of people in the hospital were vaccinated, when it should have said unvaccinated. The typo has been corrected.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 12 and over. Those 12-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use vaccinefinder.org to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • The Southwest Utah Public Health Department and most pharmacies and stores are offering walk-up appointments.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • To receive a free ride to and from a vaccine appointment through Lyft, call 211.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

For hours and more information: Click here 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

For hours and more information: Click here 

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

For hours and more information:: Click here

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketpace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd.  and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of July 22, 2021 according to Utah Department of Health)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 30,832 (7-day average of 56.57 per day, up 48.3% in last week)

Active cases: 1,105 (rising)

  • Washington County (High in Transmission Index): 247.25 per 100K rate in 14 days, rising
  • Iron County (High): 350.12, rising
  • Kane County (Low): 126.81, rising
  • Garfield County (Low): 158.38 rising
  • Beaver County (Low): 208.64, rising

Hospitalized: 51 (rising)

Deaths: 286 (1 in the last week)

New infections per day in Southern Utah:

  • Friday (7-16): 64 
  • Combined Saturday (7-17) to Monday (7-19) : 121
  • Tuesday (7-20): 43
  • Wednesday (7-21): 102
  • Thursday (7-22): 65

Current Utah seven-day average: 640 (rising)

Fully vaccinated in  Southern Utah: 90,926 (36.1%)

  • St. George: 39.4% fully vaccinated 
  • Cedar City: 31%
  • Washington City: 39.3%
  • Ivins/Santa Clara: 43.3%
  • Hurricane/LaVerkin: 29.9%
  • Enterprise/Veyo/Springdale/Hildale: 35.8% 
  • Beaver/Garfield/Kane counties: 35.3%

Number of initial vaccine injections in Southern Utah: 909 (+189)

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.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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