Daily COVID-19 update: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Today’s update is largely based on a press conference with the Utah Department of Health and Dr. Angela Dunn, the state’s epidemiologist. I’ll also include volunteer opportunities and other generous ideas that cross my desk.


In Utah, we have performed 900 tests for COVID-19. We have 51 positive tests so far, with 41 of those being residents and 10 are visitors to our state. In the past three days, we’ve added 10, 10 and 8 new cases (these are a part of the aforementioned 51 cases). We haven’t hit the spike that our state is preparing for (but hoping to avoid, of course). This means that of those tested in Utah, 5.5 percent are testing positive. “We do not have the wide community spreading other states are experiencing,” Dr. Dunn says. “We have the ability to slow the spread through social distancing.”

States Can Approve Tests

As of yesterday, the FDA has relaxed the standards for approving tests. The states now have the authority to approve tests, and our state leaders are working with the local biotech industry to meet the needs. The limiting factor right now is the re-agent needed to read the results of the tests.

Limited Tests Means Limited Testing

With the continued limit of tests available, testing is being prioritized and used for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms who have tested negative for flu AND fall in these categories: 1. Hospitalized patients. 2. Long-term care facility patients. 3. Health care workers and front-line responders. These three categories are at highest risk and most likely to spread the virus to vulnerable populations.

Social Distance To Avoid Half Of Us Getting Sick

Without social distancing measures, experts are predicting that 50 percent of the population could contract COVID-19. The state and federal government is advocating social distancing to decrease this number as much as possible. “This is a new virus and it’s hard to predict how it’s going to react with the social distancing we are implementing,” Dr. Dunn said at the press conference.

Rumor Dispelled 

The state is not anticipating an interstate travel ban (a rumor that has been spreading faster than corona).

Who Should Isolate?

Someone with a fever of 100.4 or greater (when taken orally) or an elderly person with 99.6 degrees should self-isolate.

Volunteers Needed

How can you help? Community Action Services in Provo is currently putting pre-made boxes together for clients (previously, guests were allowed to “shop” from the food shelves). Volunteers ages 16 and up are needed to assemble the food boxes. Food donations can be safely dropped off at 815 South Freedom Boulevard, Provo. Community Action Services and Food Bank

Call The Hotline

The hotline 2-1-1 can connect us to resources curated by the United Way of Utah County. This is not a new resource, but I’m so impressed that the organization of solutions is in place for a crisis like the one we are experiencing.
In summary, our state is stepping up! We are aligning our goals, resources and actions. This period of time will be remembered — and not just for its challenges. It feels like we’re having a team huddle, and then shouting “We’ve got this!”

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