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Utah up to 257 COVID-19 cases; no new deaths

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Mar. 23, 2020 at 1:55 p.m. | Posted - Mar. 23, 2020 at 12:45 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 257, officials from the Utah Department of Health said Monday.

No new deaths from the disease were reported Monday. Of the cases, 244 are in Utah residents and 13 are in visitors.

Utah reported its first death from the disease on Sunday. More than 5,000 have been tested for COVID-19 so far, health officials said.

No new health districts reported new cases Monday. Here is the breakdown of cases in Utah's health districts:

  • Bear River Health District: 4 residents, 0 visitors
  • Davis County Health District: 29 residents, 0 visitors
  • Salt Lake County Health District: 109 residents, 3 visitors
  • Southwest Utah Health District: 5 resident, 0 visitors
  • Summit County Health District: 65 residents, 8 visitors
  • Tooele County Health District: 2 resident, 0 visitors
  • Utah County Health District: 11 residents, 1 visitor
  • Wasatch County Health District: 11 residents, 1 visitors
  • Weber-Morgan Health District: 8 residents, 0 visitors

Previously, there were 169 cases in Utah residents and 12 in visitors, the health department said.

Utah is seeing a steady increase in new cases of the disease, but the growth in cases is not yet exponential, Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Monday.

More cases bring more cases, she said. But as Utahns continue to heed recommendations from health officials such as practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, she expects to see some flattening of the curve of cases in the state.

Though people ages 65 and older who get infected with the disease are more likely to be hospitalized, adults ages 25 and older are becoming infected at similar rates in all age groups, Dunn said.

Since all adult age groups are being infected at similar rates, she stressed the importance that people who develop COVID-19 symptoms must stay home and self-isolate until they are no longer having symptoms. Across all Utah cases of COVID-19, the rate of hospitalization is 10%, Dunn said.

The University of Utah is currently engaging in some studies and trials of drugs that may be able to treat COVID-19, but they are in very early stages of development, Dunn said.

Utah is not currently receiving any aid for COVID-19 testing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dunn said. However, ARUP Laboratories, University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare are all working to increase their testing capabilities, and officials are hoping to be able to test 3,000 people per day by the end of this week, she added.

That capability depends on supply chains and availability of testing materials, including testing reagent, she said. There is not currently a large backlog of tests in Utah.

There is no evidence of any COVID-19 spread occurring during a gathering at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday evening, when a large number of families waited in the airport to welcome home returning missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to Dunn.

However, those are the kinds of gatherings Utahns need to avoid, she said. The health department recommends that all people who return from countries affected by the disease, including missionaries, should quarantine for two weeks after they arrive home.

Utah health officials are still recommending people practice social distancing, not hold gatherings of more than ten people and maintain closures of restaurants and bars, Dunn said. She was not anticipating those restrictions becoming more stringent as of Monday.

A committee will be meeting later Monday to determine the next steps for Utah's schools and if they will remain closed, Dunn added. Schools are currently ordered to remain closed through at least the end of this week.

Dunn discussed the current coronavirus situation in Utah earlier Monday afternoon. Watch the replay of the press conference below.

Jacob Klopfenstein

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