Although it still feels like we’re living in the Twilight Zone — and the ending hasn’t been written — it also feels like the state is falling into a routine. Gov. Gary Herbert held another daily press conference. Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah’s epidemiologist, updated the case count at her consistent 1 p.m. meeting. Here’s my shortest update yet (you’re welcome for that 😊).
Utah now has 887 COVID-19 cases, which is an increase of 81 from yesterday. This represents a 10 percent increase in cases, which is a smaller increase than in previous days. We’ve now tested 18,518 Utahns, including 2,510 people yesterday. (This morning, the governor said we tested 4,000, but he asked Dr. Dunn correct this number two hours later at her press conference — 2,510 is the correct number). Utah announced its fifth death from the disease, which was an adult resident of Weber-Morgan who lived in a long-term care facility. Interestingly, this person had a roommate at the facility, and that roommate tested negative for the virus.
Data Part II
The graphs at coronavirus.utah.gov now include more information on hospitalizations and county stats. Of our 887 positive cases, 73 have required hospitalization. We have not come close to maxing out our hospitalization capabilities in this state. And if our social distancing + worldwide fast + miracles work in our favor, we will have all of the ventilators and beds needed.
With Central Utah now reporting its first case, all 13 health districts in the state have at least one case. Gov. Herbert’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” initiative encourages Utahns to stay home, but it also allows local jurisdictions to make stricter orders if needed. With a state that has a variety of density of residents and outbreaks, Gov. Herbert hasn’t chosen a “one size fits all” directive. Note: During Gov. Herbert’s press conference, digital attendees were posting firm and somewhat angry requests for the governor to lockdown the state.
Gov. Herbert said testing is both the challenge and the solution. He is encouraged about a new test from Abbott Laboratories that can achieve results in 15 minutes. Fifteen of these machines are on their way to Utah, but the governor managed expectations by saying this only increases our testing capabilities by 100. “The machines are capable of more, but we have to have the test kits to utilize the increased capabilities,” he said.
Gov. Herbert estimated that for every positive case of COVID-19, there are 5.5 others who also got the virus from that person but have not been tested. Some may have had such mild cases that they didn’t even know they had the infection.
Could This Be Right?
In addressing the ongoing topic of PPE shortages, Gov. Herbert said our state has 27,000 masks but we need 2-3 million masks. He’s gathering donations and working with hospitals to recycle materials needed to create additional Personal Protective Equipment.
Here Come The General
Gov. Herbert has appointed recently retired General Jefferson Burton from the National Guard to lead the day-to-day operations of the Utah Department of Health. His military background in disaster planning and response will assist Utah in ramping up the current efforts. Personal note: I met Gen. Burton two days ago at the Veteran’s Home in Payson when my family arrived to put up posters in the grass for Vietnam Veterans Day. Gen. Burton was gregarious and warm, and he offered to use my phone to take a picture of my family gathered around the posters we had made — and he assured me he was healthy and had just washed his hands. Now I’m wishing I had invited Gen. Burton to jump in the picture with us!
Facemasks Or No
Dr. Dunn said the main advantage of wearing a facemask is to protect yourself from spreading germs to others. It does not prevent you from getting the virus, but it does remind you not to touch your face. (Personal prediction: Facemasks and gloves will be totally on trend throughout 2020.)
Former Governor Stepping In
Starting Friday, the Eccles School of Business is hosting an online course called “Navigating COVID-19: How to Save Your Business.” This free class is being convened by former Governor Mike Leavitt. For more info, visit eccles.link/mike-leavitt. Also, you could reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bond. Family Bond.
Is the social distancing hitting a little close to home? Check out this article published on First Lady Jeanette Herbert’s website dedicated to helping families: upliftfamilies.org