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Utah’s first coronavirus case confirmed as gov. declares state of emergency

Utah leaders confirmed the state's first case of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, Friday night. Photo: KSL 5 TV

SALT LAKE CITY — Just hours after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 coronavirus, Utah state health officials confirmed the state had its first patient diagnosed with the virus.

Health officials said the patient in question was over the age of 60, lives in Davis County, and recently returned from a cruise on the ship Grand Princess and was likely exposed to coronavirus there.

The patient was tested by the Utah Department of Health and is being considered positive at this time. The department is sending the test to the CDC for full confirmation.

Health officials reassure the virus was not contracted in the state and the patient is isolated at their home in Davis County.

Feeling sick? Stay home

Governor Gary Herbert is telling everyone: if you feel sick, stay home. He reiterated if you’re experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home and contact your local doctor before going to a hospital.

There are many strains of the virus, some more severe than others, but the virus can spread very quickly said Herbert.  In order to minimize the spread, it is imperative to practice basic hygiene measures like washing your hands with soap, wiping down heavily used surfaces, and coughing into something other than your hands.

Herbert made a point to say Utah is bringing back the elbow bump. People should avoid shaking hands at all costs.

Coronavirus: a state of emergency

Before the news broke about the confirmed Utah case, Herbert said the purpose of the declaration was to show that Utah is prepared for a possible outbreak.

At a roundtable discussion on Thursday, representatives from the Utah Department of Health said just because there were no confirmed cases at that time did not mean the state had no cases.

“We are definitely not picking up everybody with coronavirus,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health. “There’s a lot of mild diseases out there that we’re not catching.”

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has established a Utah Coronavirus Task Force that will deal with COVID-19 in the state.

The task force will focus on measures such as protecting vulnerable populations from the disease and making COVID-19 tests accessible.

Prepared for COVID-19

At the same roundtable discussion, hosted by KSL-TV, Cox said the state is taking measures to prevent an outbreak.

“Being prepared is in our DNA,” said Cox.

The task force will focus on measures such as protecting vulnerable populations from the disease and making COBID-19 tests accessible.

“This is an evolving and changing situation,” said Cox during a roundtable. Cox added  the state intends to not overwhelm medical facilities and “keep the loss of life low.”

While no funding was mentioned in the declaration, Utah is ready to spend upwards of $16 billion on preventative measures.