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Utah sees 70 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, 5 more deaths

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Updated - Apr. 6, 2020 at 2:42 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 6, 2020 at 1:04 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 70 from Sunday, with five more reported deaths, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Monday’s totals give Utah 1,675 confirmed cases, with 138 hospitalizations and 13 total deaths from the disease. Previously, there were 1,605 cases in the state.

The new numbers indicate a 4.4% increase in positive cases since Sunday. Of the 33,394 people tested in Utah so far, 5% have tested positive for COVID-19.

The total number of cases reported by the health department includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah's outbreak began, including those who are infected now, those who have recovered from the disease, and those who have died.

Likewise, the number of hospitalizations also reflects all people who have been hospitalized at any point during Utah's outbreak.

The five new deaths happened on Saturday, according to health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn. Four were over the age of 60, had underlying health conditions, and were living at a long-term care facility — two in Utah County and two in Salt Lake County — Dunn said.

The other person who died was a man from Salt Lake County who was an older adult under the age of 60 and had underlying medical conditions, she added.

Dr. Angela Dunn discussed the current coronavirus situation in the state at the daily Utah Department of Health press conference on Monday afternoon. Watch the full replay of the event below.

In the Salt Lake County long-term care facility where two people died, 23 residents and two staffers at the facility have tested positive for the disease, Dunn said. Ten residents there tested negative and were moved to a different facility in an isolated wing, with dedicated staff, she said.

The department of health, along with Salt Lake City officials are currently investigating the outbreak, Dunn said. The outbreak at the facility in Utah County is also being investigated, she added.

The state is still holding at a hospitalization rate of about 10%, which is lower than other states, Dunn said. Part of that may be due to the lower average age of Utah's population, which means much of the state is at a lower risk for the disease.

Statewide, about 3,000 people, give or take, are being tested each day, Dunn said. The state has the capacity to test 4,000-4,500 people per day, but that depends on testing supplies.

Gov. Gary Herbert has said the goal is to be able to test 7,000 people per day in the state.

Dunn clarified that the state is not interfering with distribution of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria treatment drug thought to potentially be useful in COVID-19 treatment.

A Utah physician said in a tweet Sunday that he tried to prescribe the drug, but was told by the pharmacist that he would not be able to do so because the state had taken over distribution of the drug.

Herbert tweeted Sunday evening that the state has not taken over distribution of hydroxychloroquine, but high demand may be creating shortages of the drug.

Dunn said the same Monday, calling the issue a "miscommunication." There have been no local shortages reported for the drug, but some shortages have been reported nationally, she added.

Utah's stay-at-home directive remains just that, and is not a formal order or shelter-in-place mandate, Dunn said. Some local jurisdictions have enacted their own, stronger stay-at-home orders, and it will be up to authorities there to decide when to lift them.

People are advised to leave their homes only for critical purposes, and to maintain social distancing measures when doing so.

Utah's peak in cases is still projected for the end of April, Dunn added.

As more cases pour in, the health department will be contacting more people as part of investigating the cases, Dunn said. That means they will be reaching out to people via a phone call or text message.

Though health department officials will be reaching out via those means, they will never ask for money, financial information or a social security number. If people get calls or text messages asking for that information, it is likely a scam, Dunn said.

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