The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus began in Wuhan, China, near the end of 2019. Not long after, the virus became widespread throughout the world — with the World Health Organization characterizing it as a pandemic Jan. 30.
The first confirmed case in Utah was reported March 6 in Davis County, after it’s believed the patient was exposed while on a cruise aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. The first community-spread case — meaning the patient had not traveled outside the country or been in contact with anyone who had — was confirmed March 14 in Summit County.
Since then, the number of cases in the state has been growing — along with the hospitalization cases.
Here’s a timeline of the outbreak in Utah so far:
May 11, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported 6,362 total COVID-19 cases, 517 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths. Monday’s data represents an increase of 638 cases, 41 hospitalizations, and seven deaths since the last media briefing on May 7.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn was today’s only speaker. She said Utah’s data shows a 4.2% positive rate and a 1.8% growth rate. Despite some Utahns’ reluctance to wear masks while in public, Dr. Dunn said masks are an important aspect of keeping others safe since we have strong evidence of asymptomatic spreading. She said we will have reached a stabilization phase when average transmission rates are routinely near or below one (meaning for every one person infected, they only infect one other person); current models estimate that Utah’s transmission rate is somewhere between 1.1 and 0.93. In response to a question, Dr. Dunn said that this pandemic is both a health and economic crisis, and the two aspects cannot be separated. She was confident that Utah is taking the right steps. Dr. Dunn emphasized that this pandemic is not comparable to annual flu epidemics or other health issues. She said that although some Utah counties have been considering the move down from the orange stage to a yellow stage, the governor’s office has not had any formal requests to make that move.
May 7, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported 5,724 total COVID-19 cases, 476 related hospitalizations, and 61 deaths. Today’s data represents an increase of 129 cases and three new deaths since Wednesday’s report.Governor Herbert took the lecturn first. He began by praising Utahns’ efforts in social distancing practices and the success in keeping fatality rates low. He said that because of Utah’s extensive contact tracing methods, the state’s average transmission rate is down to 1:1. According to Herbert, Utah has the lowest number of deaths per confirmed COVID-19 case in the country. Although the state’s economic recovery may not be a perfect V-shape or U-shape, Herbert said he’s hopeful for a “Nike swoosh” shape: a gradual uptick and recovery. He said that he and his administration are committed to “being good stewards of the taxpayers’ funds,” including the federal aid that is set aside for pandemic recovery.
Val Hale, executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), spoke next. He said a new House bill that includes aid for agricultural businesses, aid for residential properties, and grants for small businesses renting commercial properties will go into effect next week. He spoke today to focus on the grants for aiding small businesses with rent. These grants total $40 million, and applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. The application process will open the morning of Monday, May 11, and more information can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov/business.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn spoke last for a situational update. She said our data still reports a 4.2% positive rate throughout the state. The coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts site has been updated to include more detailed reports regarding geographic location data and hospitalization rates. In response to a question, she said that the Utah Department of Health still recommends that individuals should limit social contact to those within their households as much as possible, despite the slow re-opening of Utah’s economy.
May 6, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported an update of 5,595 total confirmed cases in the state since the outbreak in mid-March. That’s an increase of 146 cases from Tuesday, with a total 4.3% positive testing rate.
Utah reports a total of 58 deaths, which is eight more than reported at the briefing Monday. Six deaths were reported Tuesday — marking the highest single-day increase in Utah since the beginning of the outbreak.
Gen. Jefferson Burton from the Utah Department of Health announced updates on church services during the briefings, noting worship gatherings can still take place — so long as church-goers maintain a six-foot distance between family groups. Utahns were expecting to hear further updates on this from Gov. Gary Herbert, who was absent from Wednesday’s briefing.
A reporter raised a question on reports from Sundance visitors who say they experienced severe illness after returning from the film festival. Although this was early on in the pandemic, and cases were not yet confirmed in the state, Dr. Dunn said it’s possible the virus was circulating among the large gatherings of people.
Dunn recommends festival-goers undergo antibody testing to determine whether they’ve had the virus. This can help with the monitoring and understanding of the virus as a whole.
May 4, 2020
The Utah Department of Health announced its briefings will only take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from now on.
The updated case count for Monday is 5,317 total cases, 441 hospitalizations and 50 deaths. That is an increase of 132 cases and five hospitalizations since Sunday and five new deaths over the weekend.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Utah is staying at a 4.2% positive rate for testing. Dunn also said they are seeing a drop in community transmission, or cases where the transmission is unknown.
Those cases make up 11% of all cases in Utah. Dunn said they are closely watching the spike in cases that happened in the San Juan Health District that is associated with the Navajo Nation.
That area has had a total of 116 cases and over half of those happened last week, according to Dunn. She said the Utah Department of Health has sent mobile testing units to the area to provide testing for the Navajo Nation.
The department is also providing guidance on contact tracing and prevention. Dunn said they are providing help to the Navajo Nation as requested because they are a sovereign nation.
As of right now, Dunn said the department is mainly focused on testing. When it comes to testing in the entire state, asymptomatic testing is also important.
She said they are currently targeting people at high-risk or may have been exposed but aren’t showing symptoms. Dunn said once this strategy is fully established and the data comes back as reliable, they will consider testing anyone regardless of risk or symptoms.
May 1, 2020
Today’s briefing was a situational update from Dr. Angela Dunn. Today’s case count is 4,828 total cases, 403 hospitalizations and 46 deaths. That is an increase of 156 cases and no new deaths. Dunn said Utah is still at a 4.2% positive rate.
Dunn said the Utah Department of Health is creating mobile testing units and what they are calling “strike teams” to help at risk populations. The first strike team is being deployed today to a residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Utah County. Several people in the facility have tested positive, including 15 residents and nine staff members. The strike team is providing nursing care and PPE with the facility was previously not equiped to do. The team is also providing testing and trying to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the facility. Dunn said as these teams are deployed they will be tailored to the situation. Every team, though, will be able to provide testing and treatment for COVID-19. Dunn also said even though the economy is begin to open up, it is still vital to follow social distancing measures to keep slowing the spread and protect people at high risk.
April 29, 2020
Today’s briefing covered how veterans can make sure they receive their federal stimulus checks, how DMV’s are preparing to reopen and a situational update from Dr. Angela Dunn. Today’s case count is a total of 4495 cases, 383 hospitalizations and 45 deaths. That is an increase of 152 cases, 13 hospitalizations and no new deaths. Dunn said Utah is still at a 4.2% positive rate. Dunn said it was important to know people at high risk will still need to practice social distancing even as the state begins to open up.
Gary Harter, the executive director of the Utah Department of Veteran & Military Affairs said he wanted to make sure people know the department is still dedicated to helping people and will be doing virtual benefits and claims appointments. Their services are available at veterans.utah.gov. In regards to stimulus checks, Harter said veterans who don’t have dependents and haven’t received their check yet should get it in about two to three weeks and don’t need to do anything. Harter said veterans that haven’t received their checks, have dependents and did not file a ax return in 2018 or 2019 have to register with the IRS by May 5 to get the check. The registration is at irs.gov. Harter also said he encourages veterans who have been affected by the pandemic to go to jobs.utah.gov to apply for benefits. VA centers will also have testing centers and mental health clinics to help veterans.
Monte Roberts, the director of the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles, spoke next. He announced they are giving and extra two weeks to renew expired registrations on vehicles. Roberts also said they are reopening the offices in Ogden, Farmington, Salt Lake, South Valley and Provo by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled at dmv.gov. Offices are requiring that face masks be worn at all times during appointments. There will also be distancing marks on the floors and guards sneeze guards installed. Roberts said they are encouraging people to still renew vehicle registrations online. Not all services will be available by appointment. People can still show up to the offices without an appointment and make one there, but people who already have one will be prioritized.
April 28, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported 4,343 total cases, 370 hospitalizations, and 45 total deaths Tuesday. That’s an increase of 110 cases, 21 hospitalizations, and four new deaths since yesterday. Three of today’s four new deaths were over the age of 65, two of the four had lived in long term care facilities, and all four had underlying conditions, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn. Today’s data represents a 2.5% growth rate and a 4.2% positive rate.
Governor Gary Herbert announced that the state will be moving from a red level of risk to orange, or high to moderate, on Friday, May 1. This transition means select businesses (including retail shopping, personal care facilities, and restaurants) will be able to re-open under certain safety protocols.
He emphasized that this does not mean “business as usual,” and individuals should continue following hygiene and social distance guidelines as closely as possible. Gov. Herbert recognized that this plan is not “one-size-fits-all,” and will be working closely with local governments to revise and adjust this plan as needed based on regional differences.He then announced “A Mask for Every Utahn,” a program implemented to work toward the creation of 2 million face masks with the help of the Utah Manufacturers’ Association, Cotopaxi, and many local Utah businesses. Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox took the stage to explain the benefits (and empirical data support) of mass-mask-wearing. He said as we transition from a red to orange level of opening, masks will be more helpful than ever in protecting the public and will allow Utah to edge closer to dropping to a yellow level of risk.
Dr. Dunn and Gov. Herbert both emphasized that the state’s drop to an orange level of risk should mean no change in the day-to-day life of vulnerable populations; those most at risk should continue behaving as if we are still at statewide high risk.
April 27, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported 4,233 total cases, 349 hospitalizations, and 41 total deaths Monday. That’s an increase of 451 cases, 34 hospitalizations, and two new deaths since The Forum covered the previous Friday’s briefing. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said today’s data represents a 3% case growth rate and a 4.2% rate of positive results. Dr. Dunn was today’s only speaker.
She said that we will know Utah has reached a plateau phase when we can see a 2-week trend of decreasing growth rates and decreasing positive rates. Even as cautionary restrictions may ease up, Dr. Dunn still recommended against any non-essential travel, both in-state and out-of-state, as does the CDC. She said the CDC’s travel guidelines will not ease up until we see a solid national plateau. Regarding the issue of immunity, Dr. Dunn said that although other coronoviruses have a pattern of creating immunity once an individual has recovered, we have no evidence that recovering from COVID-19 leaves a person immune to re-infection. Even those who have recovered need to continue social distancing practices.
Dr. Dunn said that the CDC has updated symptom guidelines to includes chills and shaking as a result of chills. Although Utah’s guidelines do not include chills, she said our guidelines otherwise match the CDC’s nearly word-for-word.
April 24, 2020
Today’s briefing was an update on the state of the pandemic in Utah. Dr. Angela Dunn and Governor Gary Herbert spoke about the trends that are being seen, how soon Utah may move into the stabilization phase and the situation around the government’s purchase of 20,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine.
Today’s update from the Utah Department of Health is 3,782 cases, 315 hospitalizations and 39 deaths.Dunn began the briefing saying Utah’s positive testing rate is 4.8% and the rate of hospitalization is 8%. Dunn also said Summit County, the first major hotspot of COVID-19 in Utah, has seen a steady decline in cases since the beginning of April. She said this is proof social distancing measures are effective. She announced that starting next week, testing will be available every Tuesday and Thursday at Utah Partners for Health Clinic in Midvale. The testing will be free.
Dunn also said that while herd immunity is eventually the goal, there needs to be 60-80% of people with natural or vaccine-induced immunity for it to be effective. She said the only way for that to happen is with a vaccine. Gov. Herbert then spoke, saying that while it is not official yet, he plans on moving Utah’s risk level from high to moderate as early as next week. That is also the change from urgency to stabilization outlined in the Utah Leads Together plan. Herbert is still reviewing recommendations for this change. He said they are reviewing and making more thorough plans around how to protect people at high risk and people who are at risk but have to work, how to help businesses adapt to protect people at high risk, what the budgetary needs are for the change, and what the needs are for different regions of the state.
Herbert said this change is only based on data and is not the result of politics and fear-mongering. He said some of the reasons he plans on making the change are that infection rates have gone down to nearly one-to-one, hospitalization rates have stabilized, and testing capacity has increased to around 5,000 tests per day. Herbert also said he wanted to clear up the situation surrounding the government’s purchase of 20,000 units of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that was thought to potentially help treat the virus. The purchase took place about a month ago and was when Utah was purchasing equipment to help deal with the pandemic.
Herbert said he was not involved with the decision to purchase the drug, but it was made because it was a potential treatment. The FDA announced Thursday that the drug is not effective in treating COVID-19. In light of that announcement, Herbert said they will not be purchasing more of the drug. He also said the whole situation is under the review of a legal counsel. Herbert said they have not received the shipment of the drug yet and they are not sure what to do with it. He said there will be more answers about everything next week.
April 23, 2020
Thursday’s number show an update of 3,612 confirmed cases, which is 167 more than Wednesday showing a 5% growth rate. Utah has administered a total of 80,627 bringing the positive testing rate down to 4.5% — where it’s been resting at 5% for the last few weeks.
Utah also saw another death, bringing the total number to 35 deaths. The Utah Department of Health also reports 13 more hospitalizations, bringing the state to a total of 301 hospitalization cases.
Gov. Gary Herbert said the state has the most comprehensive plan in the country, noting the numbers and slowed growth is encouraging — showing the social distancing measures Utahns are practicing is working.
Herbert unveiled a new subcommittee as part of the Utah Coronavirus Task Force: the Multicultural Task Force. This subcommittee will focus specifically on addressing minority groups, which have been disproportionately affected by the virus — namely Hispanic and Pacific Islander communities.
Byron Russell, one of the two co-chairs of the committee, said the task force hopes to provide more resources to these groups with higher rates of infections. Surveys have shown these non-English speaking communities often have limited options to receive the same information being spread to the rest of the state regarding the virus.
Reporters raised questions as to why this task force wasn’t created earlier, as other states have experienced similar challenges that Utah could’ve mirrored. Gov. Herbert said the state has scrambled over the last two months to “get their feet on the ground” and adjust as new information comes in.
The seemingly delayed creation wasn’t a “lack in trying,” Herbert said, but rather a response to the lag in information. Herbert said it takes time to “find where the leaks are” which is how they came to the decision to create the task force, representing these minority groups.
April 22, 2020
Today’s briefing covered details about yesterday’s elective surgery announcement, Governor Herbert’s response to the recent protests and an announcement of a new app that will help in contact tracing. Governor Gary Herber, Dr. Angela Dunn and app developer Jared Allgood spoke.
Today’s case update is 3445 cases, 288 hospitalizations and 34 deaths. Dr. Dunn said that is and increase of 149 cases and two deaths. She also said Utah’s positive rate for testing has gone down from 5% to 4.5%.
Herbert started the briefing discussing details to yesterday’s announcement that medical professionals can now perform elective surgeries again. Herbert said medical professionals can perform nearly any operation they could before the pandemic. They do have to take precautions, though, such as screening patients before they enter the facility. A full list of precautions both healthcare providers and patients should take can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov.
Herbert next said in repose to the recent protests to reopen the state that Utah’s response is data driven and he is grateful Utahans have followed the stay-at-home order as long as they have. He also said it is easy for people to criticize and that people may not have all the information. He said when people don’t have all the information their criticism is often off-base.
Herbert also gave a statement that they are very concerned for the wellbeing of small businesses and have been putting a lot of funding toward helping them. He said one part of that is the extra $600 people will get on unemployment. Herbert said they are starting to be concerned people will make more money on unemployment than they did working so people will choose to stay on unemployment and not go back into the workforce.
They also announced a new app that is launching it’s beta testing today, Healthy Together. The app will track where people have been and if they have been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19. It will also track where people that have COVID-19 have been. The app also helps people track if they have symptoms and connect users with testing centers.
Jared Allgood, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Twenty the developer of the app, said they have signed contracts with the government that the app is completely voluntary and users own their data. He also said location, Bluetooth and connection data will automatically be deleted after 30 days. Users can also choose to have their data deleted at any time. Dr. Dunn said this app will help create a robust contact tracing system that doesn’t have to rely on people’s memory. They said they are confident the app will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
April 21, 2020
The Utah Department of Health reported a total of 3,296 COVID-19 cases, 277 hospitalizations, and 32 deaths Tuesday. That’s an increase of 83 cases, 9 hospitalizations, and 4 deaths.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said all four of today’s new deaths were over 60, hospitalized, and had underlying conditions. Two of the four had been residents of a long-term care facility. Dr. Dunn noted that half, 16 of the 32, of Utah’s total deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.
She said staff at these facilities have been developing and putting in place the best procedures to handle the pandemic since January and praised their hard work. She said the Department of Health has plans to begin proactively testing at long-term care facilities, even when there is not a known case there.
Although Summit County has been a Utah hotspot since the initial outbreak, she said that mobile testing sites along with social distancing practices are flattening that specific curve.
Dr. Dunn said that now, more than ever, is when social distancing practices are most important. She said it’s easy for people to forget that now that we’re seeing a flattening curve, but we need to keep business restrictions and social distancing practices in place until there is an active and daily decrease in cases.
April 20, 2020
Today’s briefing consisted entirely of updates and a “question and answer” session with state epidemiologist, Dr. Angela Dunn. She began with today’s data: 3,213 cases, 268 hospitalization, and 28 total deaths.
This data represents five new deaths since Friday’s briefing. Dr. Dunn said that it’s reasonable to predict a dip in COVID-19 cases and deaths during the coming warmer months (based on patterns observed in other coronaviruses) and a resurgence of cases or “2nd wave” when weather cools down again in the fall and winter.
She emphasized that we must continue social distancing until we see a daily decrease in cases and an eventual stabilization. She said that Utah’s healthcare systems are not as overwhelmed as other states’.
The Department of Health is working with the University of Utah Hospital to develop an antibody test, which would determine asymptomatic carriers more definitively than nasal swabs.
April 17, 2020
Gov. Gary Herbert held a special briefing Friday to unveil the “Utah Leads Together 2.0” plan. This briefing was in place of the usual daily briefing by the Utah Health Department.
Current numbers show an update of 2,805 confirmed cases so far in the state, with a 5% daily increase rate. The UDOH also confirmed 23 deaths, which is two more than were reported Thursday.
The governor’s updated plan had guidelines and phases for the reactivation of the Utah economy. The plan is a revision of Herbert’s original “Utah Leads Together” plan given earlier in March, giving more details to businesses on how to reopen safely.
The plan has three phases: urgency, stabilization and recovery. Right now, Utah is still in the urgency phase, but Herbert is hoping it will be able to move on to the stabilization phase by May 1.
Some of the businesses that will be able to reopen with some restrictions are restaurants and gyms. There are also regional parts to the plan which acknowledge that some areas may be at a higher risk than others.
But as of Friday, Herbert said the state would be reopening its state parks effective immediately — with plans to reopen national parks in the state as soon as they can.
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams also announced the Utah State Senate passed a bill during a special session Thursday that will create the Public Health Economic Emergency Commission.
The committee will have 10 people on it who will advise Gov. Herbert and provide a recommendation to him by April 22 on how to safely and gradually reopen the state economy.
Herbert then has until April 30 to decide whether to enact those recommendations.
It was also announced that charities from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with the University of Utah and other volunteers, are beginning a project to sew and donate 5 million masks to Utah healthcare workers. This should be enough for a 100 day supply of masks.
Anyone can volunteer to make masks and can register at projectprotect.health.
-Marina McTee and Cami Mondeaux
April 16, 2020
The Utah Department of Health announced an update of 2,683 confirmed cases in the state of Utah as of Thursday. Of those, there have been 238 hospitalizations which is roughly 8% of those testing positive.
The state also has an updated number of 21 deaths, which is one more than was reported Wednesday. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said the latest death was a male over the age of 85, who died while in the hospital.
He lived in a long-term care facility, and Dunn said other residents there are being tested.
Right now, the national question is when economies will begin to reopen. Dunn said the state is working on a “Utah-specific plan” that will be announced in the coming days.
This week, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced in an interview with KSL NewsRadio the state has already “flattened the curve” — meaning it has slowed the growth rate of the virus spread. But, Dunn said the state needs to remain careful before making assumptions.
Before making decisions on when to reopen the state, Utah would need to see a continuous decline of cases for two weeks — the length of an incubation period for virus — before confirming the curve has actually been flattened.
House Speaker Brad Wilson has called for a reopening of the state toward the end of April — which is in two weeks from Thursday. Dunn said while this is a great goal, the state will continue monitoring and analyzing data before making any final decisions.
April 15, 2020
Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist, announced at Wednesday’s briefing assistance to childcare programs and the release of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Application.
Dr. Dunn started the briefing by announcing the updated case count. As of April 15, there are 2,542 cases, 221 hospitalizations and 20 deaths. T
hat is an increase of 130 cases, eight hospitalizations and one death. Dr. Dunn also said they have been able to trace where people where exposed in 80% of cases.
Tracy Gruber, the executive director of the Utah Office of Child Care, announced they are releasing the Child Care Operations Grant. This grant will help fund licensed child care programs that are still in operation.
It will help them pay rent, make payroll and get supplies. The funds will be distributed monthly. The grant does not currently help programs that have temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
Gruber did say they are working on strategies to help closed programs to reopen when they can. To apply for the grant, go to jobs.utah.gov.
Kevin Burt, the Unemployment Insurance Division director, then announced the release of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Application. This is a part of the CARES act and applies to people who may not otherwise qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.
Burt said the pandemic assistance is for people that are self-employed, work in the gig economy, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or otherwise have lost income because of the pandemic and do not qualify for traditional unemployment.
People will have to provide documentation that they have lost earnings because of COVID-19, and will also receive the extra $600 traditional unemployment is receiving.
April 14, 2020
Tuesday’s COVID-19 numbers report 2,412 cases, 213 hospitalizations, and 19 deaths. This is an increase of 49 cases and one new death since Monday’s update.
Today’s briefing included Governor Herbert’s hope for the stabilization phase, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson’s appreciation of Utah’s school communities, and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn’s statistical updates and analyses.Gov. Gary Herbert said he is confident Utah can reach the recovery stage of the pandemic by the summer. He is hopeful the nation can come together in a style similar to the “Manhattan Project” to create a viable vaccine or other solution sooner than current models predict.
Superintendent Dickson said “virtual recesses” and drive-by parades have been beneficial for young students’ mental and social well-being while teachers of older students are planning virtual graduations and socialization in a similar line of thought. She thanked Utah students, teachers, and parents for all their hard work during this stressful time.
Dr. Angela Dunn said today’s new death was a Utah County resident, an older adult male, under 60 years old, with underlying immuno-compromising conditions. She said the Dept. of Health has begun analyzing COVID-19 data by race/ethnicity, and has found that those in the Hispanic/Latinx community make up 28% of cases despite being 14% of Utah’s population. The Dept. of Health will continue looking into possible explanations for this disparity.
April 13, 2020
Monday’s updated COVID-19 numbers show 2,363 total cases with 201 hospitalizations and 18 total deaths in Utah. This is an increase of 261 cases with one new death since Friday.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn started the briefing explaining that testing criteria have been relaxed in order to encourage any individual with mild symptoms to get tested. She said the Department of Health is working closely with testing sites to communicate those expanded criteria to reduce the number of people being turned away from testing.
Dr. Dunn said the “soft opening” plan to essentially re-open Utah’s economy on May 1 is continually being updated and examined, and the ultimate decision will be based on data.
Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the second round of small business loan applications opened Monday morning and will continue through Thursday at noon. Hale said a total of $5.9 million will be available during this second round of the program — those who were denied during the first round will be automatically re-applied to the second.
Joe Dougherty, a public information officer for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, then announced the mobile alert directing those traveling into the state to a survey regarding their health and possible exposure has been canceled.
The wireless mobile alert was mistakenly being sent to people well within state lines rather than only to those crossing the border.
April 10, 2020
Friday’s briefing from the Utah Coronavirus Taskforce covered updates in COVID-19 cases. It also provided clarifications and updates to the executive order that sends out a self-declaration form for anyone entering the state.
The Utah Department of Health has reported 2,102 cases, 183 hospitalizations and 17 deaths. That is an increase of 126 cases and four deaths from Thursday.
The Commissioner of Public Safety Jess Anderson announced the ports of entry went live Friday. He also asked Utahns to be patient as they refine the process and to let them know about adjustments that need to be made.
Anderson also announced exemptions will be made to commercial airline employees, commercial motor carrier drivers, public safety personnel, active military, healthcare employees and workers that live close to the border.
Utah Department of Transportation Spokesperson John Gleason added people are now passing out postcards for the self-declaration at the airport. He said those people are wearing masks and gloves and will be there from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Gleason said the self-declaration will help trace where people have been if they start showing symptoms after entering the state.
April 9, 2020
In Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Gary Herbert was joined by state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn and Mikelle Moore from Intermountain Healthcare.
Dr. Dunn began the briefing with updated COVID-19 numbers from the state. Thursday saw an increase of 130 cases, bringing the current total to 1,976 cases.
Dr. Dunn addressed questions regarding recent CDC recommendations to wear face masks in public. Dunn said while the mask will not prevent someone from contracting the virus, it’s important to use so asymptomatic carriers don’t spread COVID-19 to others while they’re in public.
Gov. Herbert took time to acknowledge both the sports and arts sectors in Utah — which he said have been hit the hardest in the state. He said he appreciates the cooperation of all Utahns, including those in these sectors, for sacrificing things in the short-term to ensure success in the long-term.
Mikelle Moore with Intermountain Healthcare unveiled a new system the hospital would be launching: an emotional health care relief hotline that will be available to all Utahns. It’s free to use and is available in 20 different languages.
Ordinarily, this type of service would take four months to develop. However, Intermountain was able to roll this service out in four days with help from several state partners.
Moore said keeping emotional wellbeing in check is crucial for success against the virus.
“Things will get back to normal,” she said. “This world is not coming to an end.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announces the stay-at-home order will extend until May 1. The order takes Gov. Gary Herbert’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” a step further, enforcing it with local law.
April 8, 2020
Wednesday’s briefing by Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah Department of Health discussed updates to unemployment benefits and how the Utah Department of Transportation will be monitoring entry points into the state.
Gov. Herbert said everyone dealing with unemployment will receive an extra $600. He also said that will happen automatically without the need for more applications.
The Director of UDOT Carlos Braceras added the department will be monitoring major entry points into the state — mainly the interstates. They will be implementing geofencing on those entry points which tracks when cars come in and out.
Braceras said anyone entering the state will receive a text message asking them to go to the website entry.utah.gov. They will then be asked to fill out a self-declaration form that asks who they are, where they have been for the last two weeks, if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and to register anyone who is traveling with them who is under 18 years old.
Anyone leaving airports in Utah will also be asked to fill out the same form. UDOT is also attempting to get no-contact temperature readers to use on travelers.
Braceras said the form is simply to gather data that will be sent to the health department and is not meant to be used as a form of punishment for those that don’t fill it out. He said he expects people to do the right thing and fill out the form.
April 7, 2020
Tuesday’s briefing from the Governor’s office and the Utah Department of Health focused on the economic concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Gary Herbert said the support of front-line healthcare workers and the support of Utah’s economy are not mutually exclusive ideas.
Any business with fewer than 500 employees that has been impacted by the pandemic should apply for a PPP (paycheck protection program) loan, he said.
The state also heard from Derek Miller, chair of the Utah Economic Response Task Force and president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the loan program.
Miller said the Economic Response Task Force is primarily focusing on their “Utah Leads Together” plan, which aims to get Utah businesses through the pandemic as successfully as possible. He said more information about any and all resources provided by the task force, including the PPP loan, can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov/business.
After a brief interruption to the video and audio feed, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn took the stage for questions.
Dunn said the level of false negative tests are low enough that healthcare professionals are treating each test as a true result. She said Utah’s COVID-19 cases are slightly more likely to be male than female, but that data is not statistically significant.
April 6, 2020
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn covered recent COVID-19 deaths, testing trends, immune responses, and avoiding pandemic-related scams in Monday’s briefing from the Utah Department of Health.
Updated data showed a total of 1,675 COVID-19 confirmed cases, 138 hospitalizations and 13 virus-related deaths. That’s an increase of 70 cases, 14 hospitalizations and five deaths when compared with the data reported over the weekend.
Dr. Dunn reported current predictions place the pandemic’s national peak at the end of April, but that prediction is constantly updating. Social distancing practices will be recommended beyond the peak, regardless.
She said the Dept. of Health is working on setting up pop-up testing locations in Utah’s rural hot spots, including Summit County. She reiterated that the Dept. of Health is still not recommending testing for asymptomatic individuals.
March 29, 2020
Utah reports two more deaths caused by COVID-19, including a 24-year old woman with existing heart problems and former Utah House speaker and auto executive Bob Garff.
Salt Lake County issues a stay-at-home order under the direction of Mayor Jenny Wilson. This ordinance makes the guidelines mandatory, enforcing them with local law.
Taking the governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive a step further, the order will forcibly close more businesses that aren’t deemed essential. This includes barbershops, salons and tattoo parlors.
This comes after the state confirmed four virus-related deaths in the state, including former auto executive Bob Garff.
March 27, 2020
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has issued a stay-at-home order for city residents. This comes hours after the governor issued his directive.
This order takes the governor’s directive one step further by enforcing it with local law. The declaration closes several businesses that are not deemed essential — with restaurants continuing without dine-in services.
Governor Gary Herbert has issued a “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive for the state of Utah, in place of a statewide stay-at-home order. Rather than implementing a mandatory order with force of law, Gov. Herbert opted for this directive to encourage Utahns to stay home.
The orders from the directive are set in place until April 13 — the state government will then reassess conditions to determine further action. The governor announced schools will remain closed for the duration of the school year, continuing classes online.
The announcement comes just hours after the state reported its second death related to COVID-19.
The Utah Department of Health reports the second virus-related death in the state, confirming the patient died in Salt Lake City. The patient was from southwestern Utah and had “significant underlying medical conditions,” according to a tweet by the Utah Coronavirus Task Force.
The patient was a woman over the age of 60, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department later confirmed.
March 22, 2020
Utah reports its first death related to the COVID-19 virus, the Utah Department of Health confirmed March 22.
The patient was a male older than 60 and a resident of Davis County. The hospital reports he did have underlying health conditions.
“Even though we knew some Utah residents would lose their lives to this illness it is heartbreaking to announce this first death. We share in this family’s grief and are deeply committed to doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our community,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, UDOH state epidemiologist, in a statement. “We need all Utah residents to do their part in taking the necessary steps to limit the spread of this illness.”
March 18, 2020
Westminster College announces it will continue classes remotely until the end of May Term, June 5.
Students are welcome to live on campus until the end of May Term, as the administration acknowledges not all students have other places to go. However, all in-person events on campus have been cancelled and dining services in the Shaw Student Center will be limited.
March 17, 2020
Westminster College administration announces graudation ceremonies will be postponed from its original date, May 9, after recommendations from the CDC discourage crowds with more than 50 people.
President Beth Dobkin said the school is still planning on celebrating commencement in person before the summer is over. However, the date in early May is not feasible at this time.
“I understand the anxiety and disappointment of having to postpone this milestone,” Dobkin said in an email sent out to students. “Seniors and graduate students will have earned the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and cross that stage in front of friends and family.”
March 14, 2020
The first community-spread case of COVID-19 is confirmed in Utah, coming out of Summit County. The patient had no history of travel or known contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.
With the virus being community-spread, it means the source of exposure is unknown.
“This is the first case of community transmission in Utah, and it reinforces the importance of all the community mitigation efforts we’ve been talking about for the past several weeks,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist for the UDOH, in a statement. “Everyone needs to continue to do their part: Stay home if you are sick, keep your kids home if they are sick, and practice good hygiene to avoid sharing your germs to others.”
The patient is a male between the ages of 18-60 and an employee at the Spur Bar and Grill — reporting he had shown up to work while symptomatic. His co-workers and anyone believed to be at risk had been notified and will be monitored for for fever and respiratory symptoms.
March 13, 2020
Two days after COVID-19 being classified as a pandemic, President Donald Trump declares a national emergency in response to the outbreak. As of March 12, there are 1,645 confirmed cases from 47 states in the country.
Gov. Gary Herbert announces a “soft closure” of all public schools in the state. While in-person classes will be cancelled, students are expected to complete assignments and school work from home virtually.
This comes just hours after President Trump declared a national emergency.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to get ahead of the virus,” said Gov. Herbert during a press briefing with the Utah State Board of Education March 13. “It’s better to be too early than to be too late.”
The soft closure will take place over the next two weeks, when the state government will reassess conditions.
March 12, 2020
Several Utah colleges and universities, including Westminster College, announce they will be moving classes online for the remainder of the semester.
Westminster announced it would be extending spring break another week, moving classes online until March 27. Then, administration will reassess conditions.
March 11, 2020
The World Health Organization declares the spread of the COVID-19 virus a pandemic, after cases in China increased thirteen times and the number of affected countries tripled in a matter of only two weeks.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” the organization said in a statement. “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
WHO noted this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, noting the characterization does not change of the organization will approach the situation or its assessment of the threat.
Read more from WHO here.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall declares a local state of emergency to prepare for the potential spread of the virus. This comes after there have been two confirmed cases of the virus in the state.
“While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Salt Lake City, it is important that we act preemptively to prepare now. Doing so will help us to ensure our city’s financial stability, and the continuity of vital operations in the event that we experience the spread of this virus,” Mayor Mendenhall said in a statement. “This declaration will equip us with necessary resources and abilities should the need arise.”
March 6, 2020
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Utah is confirmed by the Utah Department of Health in Davis County. It is believed the patient was exposed to the virus while traveling on the Grand Princess cruise ship.
This case is not community spread, meaning it did not originate in the state.
The patient is a resident of Davis County and is over 60 years old with underlying medical conditions.
“Our first priority will be ensuring the patient’s family members and medical providers are monitored for potential symptoms and tested, if necessary,” said Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department, in a statement. “We will also work closely with the patient to determine if they may have exposed any other members of the community.”
January 31, 2020
The director of Human Health and Services in the U.S. declares the virus a public health emergency.
January 21, 2020
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported in the U.S. — coming out of Washington state, according to reports from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The first case of COVID-19 is detected in Wuhan, China. A report on unpublished Chinese government data showed at least 266 people had contracted the virus near the end of 2019 and came under medical surveillance.
For the first month following the first case, there were roughly one to five cases being reported each day, according to an article by The Guardian. There were 60 reported cases by Dec. 20.