Utah health officials offer update on coronavirus, state’s current status

Dr. Joseph Miner, UDOH executive director

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 27m 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Health hosted a news conference Thursday to offer updates on preparations to deal with the coronavirus, Covid-19, when it reaches Utah.

There are no positive cases of Covid-19 in Utah, and no cases have originated here, Dr. Joseph Miner, UDOH executive director said. Utahns who have contracted the virulent and highly contagious strain of flu were infected and underwent quarantine elsewhere.

But the first case believed to be spread through a community, rather than by foreign travel or known exposure to an infected person, has been reported in California.¬†And if community spread becomes more common, it’s just a matter of time before it threatens numerous states.

Milner and representatives from area healthcare companies spoke about what people can do to help lessen their risks of infection, and to assure Utah residents that healthcare providers are prepared in many ways for a pandemic, and are refining their plans for dealing with a large-scale health issue.

Milner reiterated the Center for Disease Control advisory that people avoid non-essential travel to China, and other countries with large numbers of Covid-19 cases reported.

Dr. Angela Dunn, State Epidemiologist, UDOH, said non-pharmaceutical measures people can take lessen their chances of becoming infected include washing their hands frequently, covering their coughs, and staying home when they are sick.

A further step already being taken in some parts of the world are school closures and the cancelation of mass gatherings. Residents are advised to stay in their homes for maximum safety.

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A third step for some areas, down the line, could be closing down systems such as mass transit, where people could come into contact with large numbers of strangers who could be infected.

“The risk for disease for people living in Utah is still low,” Dunn said, adding that Utahns should be aware that hospitals are working ahead to be prepared for whatever comes.

Dr. Jeanmarie Mayer, an epidemiologist at University of Utah Health, said people who have flu symptoms and suspect they may be infected with Covid-19 should consult their personal physician by phone, but not rush to the doctor’s office, where they might infect others. Mayer said the goal is to offer patient treatment, but to “keep others safe as well.”

Many U of U locations offer phone consultations with doctors and other caregivers, and other locations are “ramping up” to offer phone consultations as well, she said.

Milner noted that the majority of those who become infected with Covid-19 will recover, but older patients or those with other major health problems will be at highest risk.

For more information and updates from the CDC, click here. For the same kind of information, from the Utah Department of Health, click here.