News / Utah / 

KSL TV

Utah up to 112 cases of COVID-19; state hopes to increase testing capabilities soon

By Jacob Klopfenstein and Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Updated - Mar. 20, 2020 at 5:29 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 20, 2020 at 12:29 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The number of COVID-19 cases in Utah increased to over 100 on Friday.

There are now 112 confirmed cases of the disease in Utah, with 102 cases in residents and 10 cases in visitors in the state, according to the Utah Department of Health's coronavirus website. It shows that 2,147 people have been tested for the virus in the state so far.

Salt Lake and Summit counties still have the majority of cases of the disease.

Here are the Utah health districts where COVID-19 cases are currently present, with a breakdown of cases between Utah residents and visitors:

  • Bear River Health District: 3 residents, 0 visitors
  • Davis County Health District: 12 residents, 0 visitors
  • Salt Lake County Health District: 44 residents, 2 visitors
  • Southwest Utah Health District: 1 resident, 0 visitors
  • Summit County Health District: 28 residents, 7 visitors
  • Tooele County Health District: 2 resident, 0 visitors
  • Utah County Health District: 2 residents, 1 visitor
  • Wasatch County Health District: 4 residents, 0 visitors
  • Weber-Morgan Health District: 6 residents, 0 visitors

The 34-case jump from Thursday to Friday is the largest increase in cases since the disease arrived in Utah, according to UDOH state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

No new health districts reported cases of the disease, though, she said. No deaths from the disease have been reported, and so far all Utah COVID-19 patients who have passed their point of infection have recovered, Dunn added.

She did not have a breakdown Friday of how many people infected had been hospitalized, but said officials are working through their data to be able to provide that information.

Though there has been a steady increase in cases this week, Dunn again stressed that Utah is at relatively early stages of its COVID-19 outbreak compared to other states.

Utahns can still slow the spread of the disease by practicing social distancing measures, staying home when sick and practicing good hand hygiene, she said.

"We know that when we adhere to social distancing restrictions and when we stay home when we’re sick that we will start to see a decrease in cases," Dunn said. "So you can play a part in helping end this pandemic by staying home when you’re sick and maintaining social distance, and this will help us save lives here in Utah.”

Officials fully expect Utahns to practice social distancing to stop the spread of the disease, she added.

Dunn also said Utah should have a dramatic increase in its capability to test people for the disease by next week. She did not have an exact number of testing kits that will become available by next week.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said the state hopes to increase testing capacity in the coming weeks, up to hopefully 1,000-3,000 tests a day.

As testing abilities increase, a spike in confirmed cases in the state is expected, Cox pointed out.

“We recognize that there have been significant changes in all of our lives in the past week,” he said. “Our first priority is always the health and safety of Utahns.”

Cox also addressed the economic toll the pandemic has taken on the state, namely to those who have been faced with financial difficulties or unemployment concerns during this “tumultuous” time.

Employment services and resources for Utahns available at jobs.utah.gov

Smith’s Food and Drug has hired roughly 500 employees over last week and are looking for more every day, according to Cox, although he didn’t elaborate on which locations. The Amazon fulfillment center is also hiring, he added.

“We’re very hopeful that we can move through this as quickly as possible,” Cox noted.

Social distancing is crucial now more than ever, especially for businesses with employees unable to work from home. Cox encouraged businesses to screen employees every day for symptoms to prevent sick people from coming in contact with others.

For the time being, there have been no discussions for implementing a “stay at home” order in Utah similar to those issued in California and Illinois, Cox said.

“As of right now, we feel very good about the trajectory we’re on,” Cox said.

So far, hospitals in Utah haven’t reached capacity but with the expected spike in cases, that may change.

Washington and New York have already started to reach the point of hospitals being overwhelmed.

“We’re doing everything possible to avoid that going forward,” Cox said.

As of now, there is not a shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers, but officials are trying to get more supplies in preparation for the expected uptick in cases. Cox said officials are working with multiple organizations in an attempt to prevent a shortage of medical supplies.

Previous pandemic models suggest that it takes several weeks for states to see a peak in the number of cases, Dunn said. The state is working to get to that peak and begin flattening it as soon as possible, she said.

#cases_map

Dunn discussed the current COVID-19 situation in Utah at the daily Utah Department of Health press conference at 1 p.m. Friday. Watch the replay of the event below.

Watch Lt. Gov Spencer Cox answer COVID-19 questions below

Jacob Klopfenstein
Lauren Bennett

KSL Weather Forecast