Officials Encourage Social Distancing Measures, Number Of Utah Virus Cases Grows To 41
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Utah grows, officials said social distancing continues to be the most effective way Utahns can limit the spread of the virus.
Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said those measures are just as critical each new day, whether you are sick or healthy.
“We do know that there are likely cases out there we haven’t identified,” Dunn said at UDOH’s daily COVID-19 update Monday. “So, really enforcing these social distancing measures is important.”
This continues to be the most important message from our health officials: If you have a fever, shortness of breath, and a cough and think you may have COVID-19, it is important to self-isolate.
If you’re healthy, avoid interaction with people in public.
“We can’t predict how this virus is going to react,” Dunn said. “But, we are prepared for it to spread statewide.”
So far, the greatest number of Utah patients testing positive for COVID-19 in Utah are in Summit and Salt Lake counties, where they have also taken the greatest measures to limit public interaction.
“Because this is a novel disease, we are learning every day new things about how this is spreading,” Dunn said. “That’s what causes us to take such prudent measures such as stopping mass gatherings, and restaurant and bar closures in specific areas.“
Healthy people need to keep a safe distance from those with the virus and if you have a mild illness, officials said to stay home. Only seek testing and extra care if you need it.
“You don’t necessarily need a test that is not going to change your care,” she said. “Most people will fight off the virus with their own immune system.”
State officials want to make sure Utah’s hospitals are not overwhelmed as more cases are identified.
Twenty-nine Utah residents and 10 visitors were confirmed to have the coronavirus for a total of 39 cases in the state. Later Monday, Summit County officials confirmed two more cases to raise that number to 41.
The Utah Department of Health is holding its daily media briefing
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Monday, March 16, 2020
So far, more than 700 Utah residents have been tested for COVID-19. Currently, testing is being done at the Utah Public Health Laboratory, and ARUP Laboratories.
“We need to be very judicious in identifying who would benefit most from the test,” Dunn said.
The Utah Department of Health is still limited on testing by the specific supplies they need from their federal partners and are not getting. But Dunn said the state has the ability to test everybody who needs it right now.
Each specimen collected requires the provider to be dressed in personal protective equipment, so that equipment needs to be conserved for those individuals, officials said.
Both Tooele and Wasatch counties announced their first cases today. The Tooele County case was travel-related.
“There was very minimal exposure to others or the healthcare system,” Dunn said.
The Wasatch County case involves a student at Wasatch High School, and state officials believe this is a possible case of community spread.
“The health department has been working with the school to ensure that both the faculty and staff and students are all on home quarantine for 14 days,” Dunn said.
The case was identified during early symptoms, and all students and staff who had contact with that student are now quarantined. No secondary cases have been identified from that case as of Monday.
Utah Department of Health officials reminded people to call their doctor or used telehealth before walking into a hospital or waiting room.
When it comes to plans outside of the house such as get-togethers with friends, play dates for your kids, and out of town camping trips, here’s what Dunn recommended:
“As long as you’re not symptomatic, having those small gatherings are important during this time,” she said. “We certainly don’t want to isolate anyone to the point where they feel like they’re not connected to the world. But again, once you start having symptoms, it’s very important to self isolate and not do those things.”
Once you start showing symptoms, that’s the time to self isolate and limit all contact with other people. If you’re not symptomatic, she said getting outside for a walk is a great idea.
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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 face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at email@example.com.
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