Utah Officials Prep For Coronavirus Amid Scare
Jan 29, 2020, 4:25 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2020, 12:14 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Department of Health confirmed today it has tested for the coronavirus on “a lot of” suspect cases in recent days. Those results all came back negative. With the rapid spread of the coronavirus in China, health officials here have started preparing a response.
“The risk to Utahns does remain low, and public health is being vigilant to make sure that we do everything in our power to maintain a low risk,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah Department of Health State Epidemiologist.
The latest coronavirus, known to researchers and doctors as 2019-nCoV, has sickened five people in four states. But, there’s no evidence it is spreading from person-to-person in the U.S.
“We just don’t understand it completely, and we’re working really quickly to gather all of that data to be able to better understand it,” said Dr. Dunn.
Local health departments are working with the state department of health and the CDC to test suspect cases in Utah.
“We definitely have investigated a lot of suspected persons who might have novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Dunn. “But, to date none have tested positive.”
They are not releasing the number of suspected cases they have tested, or where those cases came from. If coronavirus cases are confirmed, they will release that information.
If patients with a fever, cough and shortness of breath go to a hospital, and they have a travel history that includes China, the doctors contact the health department and work together to evaluate the patient. They send the tests to the CDC, with results in 48 hours.
If a Utah case is confirmed, they will put out an alert and follow specific steps.
“That person will be isolated and will have repeat testing until they test negative for the virus, so that we can ensure they’re in isolation until they are no longer able to spread the disease to anybody else,” said Dr. Dunn.
Future risk depends on how effectively the virus spreads and how sick it makes people.
“This is a new virus that we haven’t seen before, meaning that we don’t have a vaccine currently, and we don’t have treatment and it is spread through airborne droplets,” said Dr. Dunn.
The UDOH coronavirus team has regular briefing calls with the CDC to help them keep up with what’s going on with the virus globally. The UDOH now has a webpage dedicated to coronavirus.