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Dept. of Health addresses new Utah COVID-19 cases and testing shortages

Mar 17, 2020, 3:24 PM
Utah COVID-19 cases plateau...
Utah Department of Health epidemiologist Angela Dunn speaking at a daily press briefing about COVID-19.

SALT LAKE CITY– Utah COVID-19 cases have risen to 51, as the coronavirus continues to spread among Utah residents.

On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reported that there are 51 confirmed Utah COVID-19 cases.  Of those cases, 41 people live in Utah and ten patients are visitors.

READ MORE: Facts, not fear: KSL NewsRadio’s coronavirus resource center

In a daily press briefing with the Utah Department of Health, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn announced that Bear River, Utah confirmed its first positive case of the virus.

The positive patient is male, under the age of 60, and is currently hospitalized. The family has been asked to self-quarantine for the time being.

To date, 900 Utahns have been tested for COVID-19. Dunn said that 5% of the tests administered in Utah were positive.

While the number of positive Utah COVID-19 cases is lower than in other states, Dunn mentioned the small number of cases is an indicator that Utah is still at the beginning of the curve and Utahns must continue to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

Limited testing for Utah COVID-19

One of the biggest concerns the nation is facing is the lack of available resources needed to protect the public against the spread of COVID-19.

“We have limited testing ability nationally and that’s because we have limited supplies to be able to run the tests, said Dunn.

“We have limited personal protective equipment necessary for our providers to protect them against the virus.”

The state is focused on providing tests to those who need it most, including hospitalized patients, healthcare workers, and patients in long term care facilities.

“Those are the highest risk populations and we want to make sure we have the capacity to test those populations,” said Dunn.

Due to the FDA relaxing some restrictions on states obtaining testing and supplies, the UDOH is working closely with biotech firms in Utah to see if they can help with resource shortages.

A major testing announcement was also made today. The UDOH says recent travel is no longer a requirement for testing since COVID-19 has already entered the state.

Thus far, social distancing, self-isolation, and self-quarantine continue to be the best option to protect the most vulnerable populations from catching the virus.

Social distancing is the best way to minimize the spread

The UDOH expects the number of positive cases to rise within the coming weeks. Dunn said Utah is preparing for the worst-case scenario and learning from other states that have experienced more severe outbreaks.

Dunn reiterated that Utah is relatively low on and early in the curve. Social distancing will severely protect those at high risk of getting sick.

Pregnant women are considered immunocompromised and should practice social distancing and isolation as much as possible.

The UDOH is asking all employers to send sick employees home. During this time, if employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as a dry cough, sneezing, or shortness of breath, they should opt to self-isolate. The UDOH is asking all employers not to require a doctor’s note from workers.

Further reading

Mitt Romney proposes giving every adult American $1,000

US tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus 

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading: 

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.  
  • Don’t touch your face. 
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet) 
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.) 
  • Get a flu shot. 

Resources for more information: 

LOCAL: 

State of Utah:  https://coronavirus.utah.gov/ 

Utah State Board of Education 

Utah Hospital Association 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707 

National Links 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization 

Cases in the United States 

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Dept. of Health addresses new Utah COVID-19 cases and testing shortages