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KSL TV, File

COVID-19 cases in Utah up to 29 residents, 10 visitors

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Mar. 16, 2020 at 6:35 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 16, 2020 at 8:29 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The number of COVID-19 cases in Utah has increased.

Utah Department of Health officials on Monday said there are now 29 cases of the disease in Utah residents, with another 10 cases in visitors in the state.

There are now new cases of the disease in residents of the Wasatch County, Tooele and Southwest Utah health districts, as well as a visitor in the Utah County health district, according to UDOH. Other cases are present in Salt Lake County, Davis County, Summit County and Weber-Morgan health districts.

Previously, there were 21 cases in Utah residents and 7 cases in nonresidents.

As of Monday at 6 p.m., 13 people in Summit County had tested positive for the disease, including residents and visitors, according to Summit County Health Department.

The state’s health department hadn’t updated numbers since earlier Monday, which showed Summit County had 11 confirmed positive cases.

With the new Summit County numbers, the total number of confirmed Utah cases, including residents and visitors, rose from 39 to 41. It wasn't immediately clear if the two new Summit County cases were residents or visitors.

The case in Wasatch County is a student at Wasatch High School, according to Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who spoke about the new cases at a press conference Monday.

Health officials are looking at the case as potentially being community spread, because they cannot identify any contact the person had with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and it is not travel-related, Dunn said.

The health department in Wasatch County is working to identify anyone who had contact with the student, such as Wasatch High School faculty, staff and students. Those people will be quarantined for 14 days and will be assessing any symptoms, Dunn said.

There was no evidence as of Monday that the disease had spread further from that person, she said.

The case in Tooele County is a male under 60 who had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case while traveling in an infected area, Tooele County health officials said.

Restaurant dine-in options to be prohibited starting tonight

Dine-in options at restaurants in Salt Lake County will be prohibited starting at 11 p.m. Monday, officials said.

The Salt Lake County Health Department will issue a health order effective at 11 p.m. that will mandate the changes.

Dining in will be prohibited, whether it is inside or outside the restaurant, according to the order. Other dining options, including takeout, curbside, pickup, drive-thru, delivery and mobile food services such as food trucks and carts will still be allowed, with some modifications, the health department said.

Food delivery services are advised to offer drop service only, the order said. Grocery stores and cafeterias will need to eliminate seating areas and any other opportunities for people to congregate in their stores.

The dine-in closures order also applies to bars and nightclubs and will remain in effect for at least 30 days, according to the health department.

Delivery drivers for services such as Grubhub and UberEats will have to deliver food without making any contact with customers, according to the order.

For restaurants doing curbside dining, exchanging cash is highly discouraged. If workers handle cash or a credit card from a customer, they will be required to use cleansing measures afterward. Workers handling cash or credit cards from customers also will not be allowed to handle or prepare food, according to the order.

Online transaction methods, such as Venmo or Google Pay, or telephonic credit cards are encouraged, the order states.

Restaurants are asked to implement social distancing measures among their workers. Additionally, no workers who are exhibiting illness symptoms will be allowed to come to work, and customers who have symptoms should be excluded from the establishment, the order states.

Help for businesses and employees unable to work

At a press conference Monday, Utah government and business leaders discussed the need to keep the state’s economy healthy as the outbreak continues.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced the formation of an economic development task force that will work alongside the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, which has already been in place.

He said while the state is working to preserve the health and safety of its residents, leaders are also working to preserve the health of Utah's economy.

People who are unable to work due to the spread of the virus and do not have paid sick leave are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance, according to Kevin Burt, director of the Unemployment Insurance Division for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Those people likely will be eligible for unemployment benefits, but the division processes those on a case-by-case basis, Burt said.

People who are on paid sick leave are likely not eligible, he said. People who are not sick but are voluntarily self-quarantining are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits and their cases will be processed case-by-case, he added.

The department is expecting an increase in applications for unemployment insurance, Burt added. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall will ask the City Council to approve a $1 million worker aid package at the council’s meeting Tuesday, she said at the press conference. The details of that package are still being worked out and likely will be announced Tuesday or Wednesday, she said.

She asked business owners in need to continue communicating with city officials. Landlords and property managers are asked to be lenient with their tenants during this time, she said.

Herbert said he hoped the economy would remain healthy so that people would continue being able to pay rent, so rent aid may not be necessary.

People who are undocumented and still in need of assistance are encouraged to call the United Way’s 211 hotline, which can connect people with resources they need, regardless of immigration status, Mendenhall said.

People who are undocumented and are not eligible for government programs are asked to look to civic or faith-based organizations for additional help, Herbert said.

Northeast Utah travel advisory

Elsewhere in Utah, authorities in Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties in northeast Utah are now asking residents of those areas to refrain from any non-essential travel outside their communities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state we are asking residents to strongly reconsider any recreational, leisure, and non-essential work-related travel that will take them outside of our communities,” TriCounty Health Department Officer Jordan Mathis said Monday in a news release.

There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Daggett, Duchesne or Uintah counties, but officials are asking people to restrict their travel in order to keep these areas free of the disease for as long as possible, Mathis said in the release.

The local travel advisory for those counties will remain in place indefinitely, officials said.

“Residents can protect themselves, their families, and our community by restricting their travel into areas with virus activity,” Mathis said.

Contributing: Lauren Bennett, KSL.com

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