Governor Gary Herbert started his this third daily press conference by denouncing the April Fool’s joke that circulated on social media today saying that he ordered all students to repeat their current grade in school starting next fall. Not true! #aprilfools Then he shared some truths, which include a slight relaxation of rules for restaurants and a statewide allowance for rent deferment. But first, the data.
Utah reached the three-digit mark today with a new COVID-19 case number of 1,012. This is based on 20,155 tests (a jump of 1,637 since yesterday). This represents 125 more positive cases in the past 24 hours, which is the largest daily jump in this COVID-19 war. However, the percentage jump is 14 percent, which is a relatively small leap. Our state has a total of 7 deaths from the virus (including two new deaths in Salt Lake County, both of whom were over age 60). The site coronavirus.utah.gov has vastly improved their data charts, which now show additional breakdowns by demographics. The age group with the most cases in our state is ages 25-44. Interestingly, four of the five age groups have more males with COVID-19 than females. The only age group with more females than males with the virus is ages 15-24.
Restaurants Can Take Our Orders Inside
The governor loosened the restaurant rules slightly by allowing patrons to go inside a restaurant to order from the counter. However, guests cannot stay and eat in the dining room or congregate with other patrons. He encouraged restaurants — as well as all businesses — to emphasize strict hygiene with hand sanitizer, social distancing, etc. At the press conference, Gov. Herbert fielded a question asking why he chose to loosen these restrictions for restaurants even while many are people are calling for a full lockdown. He explained his thought process that grocery stores allow people to be together in similar proximity inside a building while purchasing food.
Isolate. We Mean It!
Governor Herbert also ordered that those who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate starting on the day they test positive. Individuals who are exposed to someone who tests positive are ordered to quarantine for 14 days from the day the positive test comes back. And any individuals in the same household of a positive test-taker must self-isolate for 14 days. These quarantines have been included in his previous guidelines, but now this more than a suggestion. It’s an order from the governor.
Gov. Herbert also announced an Executive Order that until May 15, residential tenants may defer rent payments to their landlords. He encouraged tenants and landlords to work together, but a landlord must allow tenants a rent deferment without eviction. He made it a point to say this doesn’t get the tenant out of the obligation to PAY the rent; it simply buys them more time to figure out HOW to pay it without losing the roof over their heads. “This is designed to help people who through no fault of their own have lost jobs or income because of COVID-19,” Gov. Herbert said.
Intermountain released this new website with testing locations, including two in Utah County (Lehi and Springville) Linked here.
Spring Break At Home
As spring break and nice weather arrives, Gov. Herbert encouraged us to “stay safe, stay home” and only travel for essential reasons. “Some of our rural areas have less infection, and we don’t want to disrupt that,” he said.
That County Thing? Yeah, We Meant That For Reals
Previously, Gov. Herbert had said state parks were only for residents of that same county. Now he’s upping the stakes by saying the state park officials will be checking IDs and enforcing this rule.
Miss The Reporters
Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox started his remarks to an empty room by saying he misses having the reporters physically in the space with him, and in a lighthearted way he mentioned some of them by name and characteristic (including some with endearing snarky comments, memorable hairstyles, etc.)
Pivot And Help
Cox identified five companies that have figured out how to produce PPE quickly. The state has executed purchase orders with Wasatch Innovations, Fusion, DPS Skis, Queen of Wraps and Sugarhouse Awning. “They’ve retooled their operations to make this happen,” Cox said. “This epitomizes the Beehive mentality.” If you or someone you know wants to jump in and help with the manufacturing needs, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/help (Note: Utah has a specific need right now for air purifier masks that fully cover the face. They look like a helmet with a hose coming out the back for air.)
We’re expecting an exciting announcement tomorrow at 1 p.m. in terms of supplies, and here’s what I’m predicting: it likely involves tech CEOs who are leveraging their international rolodex, as well as partnerships with hospitals, nonprofits and religious partners (LDS Church?), who are solving pressing needs in our state.
If You’re Feeling Blue, Help Another Bluer than You
Cox said the best thing to do when you feel helpless or fearful is to find ways to give back and get engaged. He knows only some people can manufacture PPE, but others can provide meals for healthcare workers and yet others can donate blood. Once again, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/help to see what fits your abilities.
Flatten The Curve
This same question is asked every day: Have we flattened the curve yet? Although the state is happy we aren’t seeing exponential growth, we really need two full weeks of solid data to truly understand the trend. However, we are making a SLIGHT turn toward flat, said Dr. Angela Dunn, the state’s epidemiologist.
Many studies and projection models are flying around social media. The University of Washington’s study predicts Utah will have its peak of cases on April 23rd. (Perhaps 18 deaths per day for about five days straight, according to one prediction.) The study also shows we will have enough hospital beds but will exceed our capacity for ICU beds and potentially ventilators, said Dr. Dunn. The state is working toward compiling a comprehensive list of ventilator supplies in the state.
Story Time By Josh James
During today’s Silicon Slopes Town Hall, Domo’s founder Josh James gave insight into how tech CEOs are opening doors for Utah. His story starts with a trip to Japan back when both Japan and the United States had 12 cases of COVID-19. Josh felt he was taking the same risk in both countries, so he flew to Japan — where he saw 100 percent of people wearing masks. “Not 99.5 percent — it was 100 percent!” Josh said. He held one dinner meeting, canceled the rest, and came home with a realization of how serious this virus was. Josh also had a scare with one of his daughters who was exposed to COVID-19 positives in France. So he’s invested in the cause — and he likes to win. So he went to the frontlines of helping Utah in this war. He told listeners about using his factory connections in China to get PPE manufactured for Utah. He also told of a procurement specialist for Utah who reached out to other states and suggested they band together to get good pricing and shipping on PPE. He was essentially told by another large state, “Given the situation, it’s every state for itself. I’m not going to collaborate with Utah — you’re my competitor in getting supplies!” Sadly, when Trump started calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” some Chinese factories stopped shipping to the United States, Josh said. “At times like that, it’s important to have a relationship with factories and warehouses in China so we can work through difficulties and get to the front of the line for supplies we need in Utah,” Josh said.
COVID Positive? Help Us Out
A biotech company is looking for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to provide blood test samples for development of a serology test to measure antibody levels. For info, call (408) 744-1331 or visit arrayit.com.
If you want to geek out about all things Coronavirus stats, visit domo.com/coronavirus-tracking. It may be the most extensive dashboard worldwide about the virus. “We want to help our leaders understand this. Politicians are good at managing cities and states and having innumerable conversations that entrepreneurs wouldn’t have, but they aren’t as skilled at seeing a problem and immediately tackling it and fixing it. I’m proud of our state for recognizing what entrepreneurs can bring to the table and working together to get things done,” Josh said.
Show Me The Money
Personal Paycheck Protection applications begin on Friday. See your lender or visit the SBA to learn more. I’m not going to lie — I’m worried this process of businesses applying for limited money will feel a lot like the near-impossible task of trying to get tickets to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert.
Facebook Groups to Follow
This Utah County-based Facebook group has feel-good posts about people acknowledging good deeds and miracles: Search for “Coronavirus Miracles.” This next group is like a “Dear Abby” for today’s marketing challenges. Check it out! “Marketing Support Group for Utah Businesses.”
Josh James said it best (as he often does … think blue billboards on I-15). “Since the beginning of time, we’ve been asking what region are you from, what tribe are you from. This is the first time in modern history that all of those categories have been decimated. It’s about being human and helpful to each other right now across all borders and tribes,” he said. Mic drop.