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13 people test positive for COVID-19 at the Midvale Family Resource Center
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Utah seeks to help small businesses as it ramps up COVID-19 testing

FILE - In this April 2, 2020, file photo a nurse holds a vial and a swab at a drive-up coronavirus testing station at a hospital in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — New numbers released by the Utah Department of Health on Tuesday show state officials continue to ramp up coronavirus testing efforts while the state looks to shore up its economy.

Supporting small business in Utah

At a news conference Tuesday detailing the new numbers and updating the situation in the state, Gov. Gary Herbert stressed the need to support Utah businesses while also slowing the spread of the virus. Specifically, he urged Utahns to support small businesses, while also encouraging those businesses to take advantage of state and federal resources available to them.

“The backbone of our economy is small business,” Herbert noted, pointing out small businesses make up 90% of businesses in Utah.

He also announced something called the Paycheck Protection Program, aimed at assisting every business in the state with fewer than 500 employees to keep operating and keep paying workers.

“If you are a growing Utah company with less than 500 employees, this program is for you. If you run a small mom and pop shop, this program is for you. If you do contract or freelance work in any industry, this program is for you. And if you are a local franchisee of a restaurant or a hotel, this program is for you,” he said.

The PPP is a loan, but Herbert said if businesses meet the requirements and hold up their end of the bargain, the loans will be forgiven.

Utah coronavirus testing ramps up

Herbert spoke while wearing a face mask — at least at first. He encouraged state residents to follow his example, then took it off to make it easier to understand him while he spoke. The governor also wore a white ribbon on his lapel in honor of the “people on the front lines”: doctors, nurses, aides, and other health professionals.

According to the state, clinics and hospitals tested 34,647 Utah residents since the outbreak began. 1,738 test results came back positive so far. 148 cases required hospitalization.

The health department says positive coronavirus testing results come back right away, but negative results may be delayed by as much as 72 hours. They also say cases from before March 19, 2020 could be underreported.

Health officials no longer include people who do not live in Utah in coronavirus testing numbers.


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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.

Local resources

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 Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States