CORONAVIRUS

Utah Coronavirus Hotline Sees Call Surge After Recent Announcement

Mar 12, 2020, 11:14 PM | Updated: 11:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As the number of cases of COVID-19 rises, so does the call volume for the Utah Coronavirus Information line, a number set up for those with symptoms, questions or concerns.

For days now, state leaders have urged people with symptoms to call before visiting the doctor. The Utah Department of Health even set up a hotline (1-800-456-7707) so people aren’t overwhelming healthcare providers.

The center taking those calls is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of the coronavirus. But unbeknownst to the many callers over the last week, the Utah Poison Control Center at the University of Utah Health campus has also become somewhat of the center for information about COVID-19.

“The phone’s ringing nonstop,” said Dr. Michael Moss, Utah Poison Control Center medical director. “People have lots of questions and we’re here to help. Things have really ramped up in the last few days.”

Moss said their typical 100-to-120 calls a day about poison turned into hundreds of calls about the coronavirus on Wednesday when state health officials confirmed a third case in Summit County, followed by President Donald Trump’s travel restriction announcement and the news of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s positive test results.

On Thursday, hundreds more called in in a matter of hours around the time Gov. Gary Herbert announced new recommendations to help stop any potential spread of the virus.

“We’re always used to learning about new information because that’s what happens with poisoning, whether it’s a new thing about vaping or tide pods,” Moss said. “We’re just working around the clock to stay on top of the new information that comes from the CDC or Utah Department of Health.”

Visitors to various urgent cares and doctor’s offices have reported seeing the number taped outside the entrance, along with a message warning people with a fever, cough or shortness of breath to call instead of coming in.

A call to the number will bring you to a recorded voice, saying “Welcome to the Utah coronavirus information line.” You’ll then be prompted to ask a number of questions like, “Have you traveled to an area with widespread COVID-19 transmission or had contact with a person infected with COVID-19?” “If you are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath press two.”

Stay on the line long enough and you’ll have the option to speak with a trained healthcare professional. Moss said the number of staff answering calls has tripled at times to keep up with demand. They might encourage you to stay home, refer you to a doctor or, depending on your answers, recommend testing.

“It’s a pretty case-by-case basis,” Moss said. “As testing has been limited, we’re having to do with the people who will most likely have a positive test because we don’t want to not have enough tests available for the patients that are at highest risk and those that are sickest.”


Coronavirus Resources

Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL TV wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com.

What is COVID-19? Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy

What We Know And Don’t Know About The Coronavirus

Four Common Coronavirus Questions Answered

The latest coronavirus stories from KSL TV can be found here.

Your Life Your Health: How can parents prepare their home, children against coronavirus?

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

9 days ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

11 days ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

13 days ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

1 month ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

3 months ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Utah Coronavirus Hotline Sees Call Surge After Recent Announcement