Daily updates on COVID-19

KCPW is providing a daily recap of the rapidly changing news on the novel coronavirus and its local impact. Check back here for the number of cases, closures, advice, updates, and more.

4:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 7

1,738 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 in Utah and 148 have required hospitalization, according to the Utah Department of Health. No new deaths from the virus were reported on Tuesday, leaving the count at 13 people in Utah who are known to have died from the novel coronavirus.

State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said on Tuesday that Utah has consistently had a 5% positive rate for everyone tested. However, she said what state leaders were now hoping to see a reduction in new cases.

5% positive is a lower rate than some of our surrounding states and [this] could be because we implemented social distancing measures really early in this outbreak such as school closures and in-house dining [bans] for restaurants and bars. However what we need now is a drop in actual cases to happen and in order to do that we’re relying on you as individuals to adhere to the Stay at Home directive by Gov. Herbert so that we can see the low positive test rate translate into a lower number of cases every day. -Dr. Angela Dunn

Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park is the latest park to close to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Park superintendent Linda Mazzu told the Associated Press Monday night that the ongoing flow of visitors to the park made it difficult to maintain proper social distancing. Mazzu says she made the decision with the backing of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Garfield County commissioners. Capitol Reef National Park remains the last of Utah’s five national parks still open, but its scenic drive and campgrounds are closed. Zion, Arches and Canyonlands national parks are already closed.

– KCPW Producers

3:15 p.m. Monday, April 6

Latest coronavirus case counts for the state of Utah:

The state now has 1,675 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 138 people have required hospitalization because of the virus, according to the Utah Department of Health. Thirteen people are now confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in Utah. In a press conference on Monday afternoon, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said that the relatively low increase in cases was likely due to decreased testing over the weekend.

Meanwhile the Utah House Democratic Caucus on Monday urged Gov. Gary Herbert to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Utah is one of just nine states that doesn’t have such an order in place. On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on governors of states that have not issued the orders to do so – if only for a week – to help combat the spread of the virus. So far, Gov. Herbert has asked for voluntary measures from residents. However there are mandatory stay-at-home orders in a number of counties and local jurisdictions across Utah, with penalties possible for those who don’t follow those orders.

– KCPW Producers

2:15 p.m. Sunday, April 5

Latest coronavirus case counts for the state of Utah:

The counties with the highest confirmed case counts are Salt Lake County (741 cases, 62 hospitalizations), Summit County (256 cases, 16 hospitalizations), and Utah County (216 cases, 13 hospitalizations).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores and pharmacies). This is because recent studies show that a significant amount of people who have coronavirus don’t show symptoms, but can still transmit the virus.

This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. – CDC

WATCH: 45-second CDC video on how to make your own face covering

CDC recommendations on face coverings (fitting, wearing/removing, sanitizing, etc).

– Roger McDonough

3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 4

Latest coronavirus case counts for the state of Utah:

The counties with the highest confirmed case counts are Salt Lake County (650 cases), Summit County (230 cases), and Utah County (186 cases).
Utah reported its eighth death from COVID-19. The patient was a woman over the age of 85 who resided at a Salt Lake City nursing facility. Health officials say she died on Thursday. Six of seven patients at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email from the Utah Department of Health. Tests were conducted after a first patient was hospitalized on March 27, 2020. Three of the other patients are currently hospitalized. Two staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19.

The health department did not disclose the name of the nursing home, though KUTV reports that Pine Creek Rehabilitation and Nursing was the affected facility.

All of the remaining residents are isolated in their rooms and nursing staff is following CDC recommended safety precautions while caring for them, the email states. Test results are pending on the remaining residents and those who test negative for COVID-19 will be transferred to another facility.

As a result of the outbreak, the affected facility will now become a COVID-19 only facility. The small, 34 bed facility, will admit only COVID-19 patients who no longer require hospital-level care.

– KCPW Producers

1:45 p.m. Friday, April 3

Zion National Park will be closed effective immediately in response to the coronavirus crisis. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the state had coordinated with the U.S. Interior Department on the decision to close the park. In addition, the governor said the state would work to close boat ramps at Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border this coming weekend. Utah’s state parks remain open only to residents of the same county where the park is located. The governor said these limitations were meant to reinforce the message behind his “Stay Safe. Stay Home” order from last week.

Utah now has 1,246 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 100 people have required hospitalization because of the virus. More than 24,000 people have been tested, according to the Utah Department of Health, and 7 have died.

On Friday, Utah’s new point person on the coronavirus crisis gave an update on the medical equipment available in the state of Utah. Retired Utah National Guard Adjutant General Jefferson Burton said that Utah has around 600 ICU beds total. As of early Friday afternoon 297 of those beds were filled, primarily with non-coronavirus patients. Based on projections from the University of Washington, General Burton said 227 beds would be needed at the peak of the epidemic in Utah. When it comes to ventilators, Burton said the state was also well-stocked with just under 1,000 ventilators of the type needed for patients with COVID-19 on hand, and about 28% of those being used by other patients. Based on projections, the general said Utah should have enough ventilators to meet the need.

However, General Burton said the state was less prepared when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). He said that Utah had received 165,000 of the 3.6 million N95 masks officials believe they need, and had received 76,000 face shields with a predicted need of 2.2 million shields.

Burton lauded public-private partnerships that were working to address those shortfalls.

Meanwhile, Utah is asking for healthcare volunteers to help staff overflow facilities. Overflow sites would not be for COVID-19 patients, rather for others in need of medical help to free up space in hospitals. Volunteers with a background in healthcare and/or certification(s) are needed. More information at the state’s coronavirus website.

– Roger McDonough

5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2

There are now 1074 confirmed cases of the virus in Utah, a slight uptick from the milestone reached yesterday when the case count surpassed 1,000. One hundred people have required hospitalization because of the virus. More than 21,000 people have been tested, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Jobless claims in Utah continue to rise as tens of thousands of people are left without work in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits in Utah was 28,560 for the week of March 22 to March 28, 2020, representing a nearly 50% increase over the previous, record-setting week. A total of $3,972,938 was paid in benefits, according to state unemployment officials.

In an emailed statement, Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services said:

We are approaching more new claims in the last two weeks than the number of claims filed in all of 2019. The Unemployment Insurance Division staff continue to work diligently to meet this unprecedented volume. Strategies continue to be implemented to respond to this need, as well as the new benefits being described in the CARES Act, but with this historic demand there will be some disruption in our normal service levels.

– Roger McDonough

5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1

Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert issued an executive order Wednesday instituting a moratorium on residential evictions for tenants who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. The order is effective immediately and applies only to individuals who have suffered wage or job loss as a result of COVID-19, have undergone self isolation or quarantine in compliance with an order issued by the Utah Department of Health or a local health department, or have tested positive for COVID-19. It is effective through May 15.

In an email statement the governor said:

This order temporarily suspends eviction proceedings against a small number of individuals who are unable to pay rent due to direct and identifiable impacts of COVID-19. This provides a measure of relief to Utahns who are undergoing periods of great disruption. If you can pay your rent now, you must do so.

The governor emphasized that the order does not create or order rent forgiveness. It is designed to help provide a window of leniency, not to release individuals from rental agreements. Evictions by landlords cannot be initiated until May 15. Tenants who can pay rent immediately must continue to do so. All tenants who are unable to pay rent now will be required to pay back rent when the order expires.

Individuals who have experienced job or wage loss as a result of COVID-19 can file for help through the Department of Workforce Services.

View the full order here.

– KCPW producers

1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1

More than a thousand people have now tested positive for COVID-19 in Utah and seven people have died in the state as a result of the virus. The Utah Health Department reports that 91 people have also been hospitalized by the virus in the state. The total case count in Utah is 1012 with 444 of those cases in Salt Lake County. More than 20,000 Utahns have been tested for the virus to date.

– KCPW producers

8:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 31

Utah House Democrats are urging Gov. Gary Herbert to place a moratorium on evictions, late fees, and collection fees for renters and small businesses for the next 60 to 90 days. In an emailed statement on Tuesday evening, the Utah House Democratic Caucus said, in part:

While it is admirable that many landlords have indicated a willingness to voluntarily waive rent and late fees, we know that not all of them will. Just as numerous other states have done, the governor should order a halt to both commercial and residential evictions, including non-criminal nuisance evictions, and allow renters to make back rent payments up to six months from the rental due date.

We acknowledge that this systemic problem not only impacts renters and landlords, but also banks and mortgage lenders. Reaching solutions to address all of these interwoven challenges will require more time to develop, which may likely begin soon in a special session. But for many anxious renters the urgency is now.

During this unprecedented emergency, thousands of Utahns could be further imperiled without quick action. We urge the governor to take this first step and act immediately before this issue worsens our current crisis.

A response from Gov. Herbert was not immediately available.

In other news the Utah Arts Festival announced that its 2020 festival was being cancelled. In an email statement festival organizers said the event would be postponed until June of 2021 due to the logistics of rescheduling.

On Tuesday evening organizers of the Utah Pride Festival said that event was being postponed until September. The Utah Pride Center announced the decision on Facebook after it was first reported by Q Salt Lake.

In an effort to keep everyone safe and allow the tens of thousands of people who enjoy the annual event to attend, the 2020 Utah Pride Festival is being moved to the end of September. The Pride Days theme for 2020 is Love On, Live On – our hope is that we can all focus on this message as we move through these uncertain times with optimism for better days to come! -Utah Pride Center

And Salt Lake City golf courses will re-open this week. The The Salt Lake City Golf Division announced that play will resume at Bonneville, Forest Dale, Glendale, Nibley Park, and Rose Park on Thursday, April 2. New restrictions at the courses will include mandatory prepayment online and social distancing measures.

– KCPW producers

1:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 31

On Tuesday the Utah Health Dept. announced that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Utah had climbed to 887, with 396 of those in Salt Lake County. A fifth person has died from the virus in the state. The latest death was a Weber County woman who was under the age of 60. There are now confirmed cases in every health jurisdiction in the state. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn says that 73 people have so far required hospitalization in Utah as a result of the virus.

During the state health department’s Tuesday briefing Dr. Dunn said that there had been no cases to date in which a healthcare worker who was caring for a COVID-19 patient had contracted the virus from their patient. In addition, she said that three or fewer long-term care facilities in the state had a confirmed case. Dr. Dunn stressed the importance of protecting those in Nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities, as

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