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Party in Summit County appears responsible for recent surge in COVID-19 cases, health officials say

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PARK CITY — A private party where face masks were not widely worn is likely responsible for a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Summit County, health officials said Thursday.

The gathering was held in early August in Park City, after which daily COVID-19 case numbers began to increase.

On Aug. 1 there were four new COVID-19 cases reported, according to the Utah Department of Health. Since then, new daily case numbers remained steady with anywhere from one to six new cases until Aug. 16, when 14 new cases were reported.

Then on Wednesday, the number jumped to an increase of 21 new cases.

Health officials said Thursday the spike is “primarily associated with a private party” where face coverings were not used by everyone in attendance.

Most cases in the county are in the western region of the county and in adults aged 25-44.

The surge is not associated with the reopening of schools, health officials emphasized in a press release. Schools in South Summit, North Summit and Park City school districts all opened this week.

Contact tracing and case investigations remain ongoing during the surge.

“For several weeks, Summit County residents and businesses had successfully kept new COVID-19 cases at low levels,” the Summit County Health Department statement read. “This should be a reminder that the irresponsible actions of a few can place our communities, businesses, residents, and visitors at risk.”

A spokesperson for the Summit County Health Department told the number of people in attendance at the party wouldn't be released at this time.

Summit County was the first in the state to implement a stay-at-home order in March as the area was an early hot spot for COVID-19 cases.

In June, Gov. Gary Herbert approved the county’s request to implement a mandatory mask order and earlier this month, county officials reported the area had seen a decrease in positive cases since the mask order went into effect.

“The data are clear: wearing a face covering decreases the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Summit County Health Director Dr. Rich Bullough said on Aug. 7. “Our economic and health outlook for the fall and winter is much more favorable if we can maintain this trend through community effort. We are hopeful these data encourage our residents and visitors to remain vigilant in wearing face coverings. Their efforts are clearly paying off.”

As of Thursday, the state health department reported Utah had seen a total of 47,982 novel coronavirus cases with 39,364 considered recovered and 381 total deaths.

According to USA Facts data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46.4% of the state’s cases were concentrated in Salt Lake County and 1.6% were in Summit County.

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Lauren Bennett is a reporter with who covers Utah’s religious community and the growing tech sector in the Beehive State.


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