(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Davis County Health Department (DCHD), and the COVID-19 Community Task Force tonight confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 in Utah.
A press briefing will be held tonight, March 6 at 9:00 p.m. at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Utah State Capitol. Speakers will include Governor Gary R. Herbert, UDOH State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, DCHD Executive Director Brian Hatch, and UDOH Executive Director Dr. Joseph Miner. Media should access the EOC via the west steps of the State Capitol, an escort will be present to lead you to the EOC.
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.
After returning to Utah, the patient visited their health care provider after developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection. The patient’s medical provider collected a clinical sample and submitted it to the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) for testing.
Because the sample was tested by UPHL, the case is considered to be a “presumptive positive” and further confirmatory testing will be carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The patient is a resident of Davis County and is older than 60. To protect the patient’s privacy, no further details about them will be released. The patient is recovering at home and is under a county-issued isolation order. The Davis County Health Department will monitor the patient, as well as any of the patient’s close contacts.
The COVID-19 Community Task Force, under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, is monitoring the situation closely, and is prepared to offer any necessary assistance to the Davis County Health Department.
“Our first priority will be ensuring the patient’s family members and medical providers are monitored for potential symptoms and tested, if necessary,” said Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department. “We will also work closely with the patient to determine if they may have exposed any other members of the community.”
The UDOH will assist the DCHD in identifying and contacting anyone who may have been in close contact with the confirmed case. These individuals will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
“Even though a person in Utah has developed the illness, the risk to the general public remains low,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah State Epidemiologist. “However, this case does represent a turning point in our response. Home isolation of confirmed cases who aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized is a proven measure that will help limit the spread of disease. We need the public to understand this, as isolating these types of cases at home will become more routine as we identify additional cases.”
“First and foremost, I’m hopeful this patient will make a fast and full recovery. This is undoubtedly a frightening situation for their patient and their family, and we stand ready to assist them,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “Utah residents should feel confident that all levels of state and local government, and our health care providers have been preparing for this moment for many weeks now. We will certainly see additional cases in the near future, and we are prepared to take the necessary steps to protect the public’s health and limit the spread of this illness.”
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to what someone may be experiencing as the result of seasonal influenza – namely a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. These symptoms on their own are not worrisome and should not cause alarm. But if someone exhibits these symptoms who has recently traveled to areas with widespread COVID-19 illness or has been in close contact with a known positive case, that individual should immediately notify their health care provider, who will coordinate with the appropriate public health officials to determine next steps.
There is currently no vaccine available for coronavirus and it is flu and respiratory disease season. The UDOH recommends getting vaccinated for influenza, and taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs including regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or an elbow, and staying home when you’re sick. All nonessential travel to areas affected by COVID-19 is also discouraged.
More information about novel coronavirus can be found at coronavirus.utah.gov or at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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COVID-19 Media Line