One Year Ago, COVID-19 Concerns Hit Home For Many Utahns
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Many Utahns will remember the night the game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was canceled after Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test was announced.
Even now, a year later, the moment COVID-19 was no longer something that only affected other countries still feels like a bad dream.
“We’ll wait and see what the official word is,” said an announcer during the game on March 11, 2020. “We will try to clarify this as soon as the information comes forth.”
The Jazz were in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder. However, the game was called off just before tipoff because Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
That scene of players walking off the court is one many will never forget.
“While the pandemic did not start a year ago for many of us, today marks the day when I think it became real,” said Gov. Spencer Cox during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Of course, it wasn’t Gobert’s fault — he was just the first player to test positive.
But, it did lead to an NBA, and eventual all sports, shutdown.
“The world has changed in the last three hours. Who knows what we’re going to encounter tomorrow?” said KSL sports anchor Spencer Linton that night on the 10 o’clock newscast when talking about what happened.
The next day we knew.
Events were canceled. Businesses and restaurants closed. Schools began shutting down.
It might not have been fear, but there was certainly some panic.
At the Murray Costco, the lines were often 20-25 people deep.
“I’m worried about everything shutting down and not being able to purchase groceries,” said one shopper as she packed boxes of food into her car.
“It is madness in there. They’re out of toilet paper,” laughed another shopper.
We can laugh about the shortage of toilet paper now, but at the time, along with the lack of bottled water, meat and sanitizers, there was concern.
“It’s not so much I’m worried about it, I’m just worried because everybody else is worried,” said one man as he put cases of bottled water and food into his car. “So I’m stocking up on things because if I need something a week down the road, who knows what it’s going to be like?”
There was no way to know for sure. Only that we all had a sense that it was going to get worse.
“I suspect that we will be continuing to see more cases in our community, in Utah, along the Wasatch Front, and other areas,” said a worker with the Utah Department of Health during a press conference last March.
He was right — case numbers did increase.
But now, after what has been a tough year, things are finally looking better.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who knows about as well as anyone what kind of year it has been, said that during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“We’re on our way to the end. We’re so close,” she said. “And we’re really fortunate to have a decrease in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths at the same time we’re increasing our access to vaccine.”
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