HEALTH

Utah health officials prep for a Coronavirus outbreak

Feb 7, 2020, 5:58 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2020, 9:22 am
Utah State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn (left) and other health officials were at the State Capitol to update the public on what they're doing to prep for a potential Coronavirus outbreak. (Photo credit: Kelli Pierce)
(left)

SALT LAKE CITY – Health officials acknowledge that a Utah Coronavirus outbreak is unlikely. But that has not stopped them from prepping for a worst-case scenario.

More than 34,000 people have been infected with the potentially deadly disease so far, including 12 in the United States.

Though an outbreak of Coronavirus is not expected here, Utah State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn believes in being safe, not sorry.

“Whenever we have a new virus introduced into the human population, it’s something we need to take seriously, Dunn said after a news conference at the State Capitol, “because we don’t yet understand completely how it’s gonna act in a population. And, so, we need to do everything we can to contain it.”

The Utah numbers

To date, twelve people in Utah have been screened for Coronavirus.  Of them, ten have tested negative and the other two are still awaiting their results.

Dunn says certain people are more at risk for catching Coronavirus than others right now.

“There [are] two main risk factors for getting Coronavirus: one [is] travel to mainland China, two [is] having close contact with someone who has Coronavirus,” Dunn said.

That is why state health officers have been teaching community groups how to spot the symptoms of Coronavirus, with a focus on groups that may be at higher risk of getting sick.

They are also encouraging people not to travel to China.

The worst-case scenario plan

Dunn says the state is also coming up with a worst-case scenario plan and making sure health agencies have the medical supplies they need.

She believes hospitals in Utah are currently capable of handling an outbreak, though some facilities can take in more patients than others.

The state’s efforts are similar to those performed during a potential global pandemic.

“We’ve done this for measles, when we had a Hepatitis C outbreak…Ebola…Zika. This is part of our routine,” Dunn said.

 

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