SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 6, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The first known case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Utah was confirmed Friday in Davis County.
In a 9 p.m. press conference, Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah Department of Health State Epidemiologist, said officials first learned of the individual who has the illness at 5:30 p.m. and have been identifying everyone with whom that individual has been in contact.
The COVID-19 Community Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, is monitoring the situation, and is prepared to offer any necessary assistance to the Davis County Health Department.
In a news release from UDOH earlier Friday evening, officials said “The patient is believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 while on a recent cruise aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. It’s important to recognize this case does not represent community spread of COVID-19 in Utah.”
The patient’s name has not been made public to protect their privacy.
Utah health officials said after the patient returned to Utah, he developed symptoms of COVID-19 and went to see his health care provider.
A clinical sample was taken and sent to the Utah Public Health Laboratory for testing. Further testing to confirm the presence of COVID-19 will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The patient, who lives in Davis County, is over the age of 60 and is recovering at home. A county-issued isolation order is in effect, and Davis County Health Department will monitor the patient and any close contacts of the patient.
Dunn said the patient is “very aware” of the coronavirus and is compliant with the self-quarantine order.
Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department, said in the news release and emphasized in the press conference that “Our first priority will be ensuring the patient’s family members and medical providers are monitored for potential symptoms and tested, if necessary. We will also work closely with the patient to determine if they may have exposed any other members of the community.”
Gov. Gary Herbert expressed hope that the patient will make a fast and full recovery, and acknowledged that the situation is undoubtedly frightening for the individual and their family, adding “…we stand ready to assist them.”
Herbert said the state has been preparing for the coronavirus for many weeks now, and he reminded everyone of the importance of following certain guidelines to “minimize the threat”:
- Use an “elbow bump” instead of a handshake
- Use hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue
- Regularly disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
- Stay home even with mild symptoms like the common cold
COVID-19, for the vast majority of people is very minor, so don’t panic, UDOH Executive Director Dr. Joseph Miner advised.
It’s important that we are protecting the most vulnerable — those over 60 who have an underlying health condition, he said.
It also was made clear that anyone who experiences symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, should call their health provider first, and NOT go to the clinic or the emergency room. The clinic or ER may be crowded, and it’s important to avoid exposing others to the virus if you have it.
Officials are also reminding everyone that there’s still time to get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so. This is important because if you come down with the flu and are exposed to COVID-19, you could become dangerously ill.
Anyone who has symptoms of an upper respiratory illness, no matter how mild, can get more information online at coronavirus.utah.gov or cdc.gov/coronavirus or by calling 800-456-7707.