SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 6, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert on Friday declared a coronavirus state of emergency prior to the discovery of any Utah-based case.
“Our number one focus is preparing for the arrival of novel coronavirus,” Gov. Herbert said in a prepared statement. “Issuing this declaration now allows us to take additional proactive steps that will make a big difference in how effectively we can respond once we start seeing COVID-19 diagnoses in Utah.”
Herbert emphasized that the executive order is part of Utah’s preparedness plan, and was the unanimous recommendation of the Utah COVID-19 Task Force. The task force is led by Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox and includes public health officials and health representatives from the private sector, as well as business, education, and community leaders.
“While no one in Utah has yet tested positive for COVID-19, issuing this order now allows our state and communities to access additional funding and resources that will be instrumental in helping us prepare to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Cox said.
Utah has had one resident test positive for the coronavirus after a cruise through Asia. St. George resident Mark Jorgensen, who has not displayed symptoms, underwent observation at Intermountain Medical Center, in Murray. Jorgensen’s wife, Jerri, was also on the cruise, and is voluntarily self-quarantined at their home.
Because the Jorgensen case did not originate in Utah, it is not classified as a Utah case.
Health Department officials have confirmed the self-quarantine, required of Mark Jorgensen until two consecutive coronavirus tests come back negative, presents no threat to the public.
Cox also noted that Utah’s neighboring states have announced their first cases of COVID-19, the Governor’s Office statement says.
In addition to recommending that Herbert declare a state of emergency, the task force discussed several other mitigation steps in their Friday morning meeting, including developing outreach plans to address vulnerable populations, identifying ways to increase capacity to test for COVID-19 and ensuring access to telehealth care for residents statewide.
The state is also working together with partners in the private sector on a mass media public information campaign, the statement says. More information on these efforts will be forthcoming.
Officials say people can help stop the spread of novel coronavirus through simple prevention steps, including washing hands thoroughly, disinfecting shared surfaces and covering coughs.
Anyone who has symptoms that appear to match the virus, such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, is asked to contact a doctor by phone or telemedicine, and stay away from public spaces, except to seek medical care.
More information available by visiting this link.