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Health officials report more than 100 coronavirus cases in Utah

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.Credit: NIAID-RML

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah now has over 112 confirmed coronavirus patients, which is an increase of more than 30 cases in just one day.

Is this cause for serious alarm, or is this within what health officials were expecting?

Coronavirus cases in Utah

Some of the latest cases include a member of Hill Air Force Base and a resident living in a BYU student complex.  So far, over 2,100 people have been tested for the virus with no deaths being reported in this state.

Even though the jump between Thursday and Friday is the biggest one-day increase to date, Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist Angela Dunn says this falls in line with what they were projecting.

“The rate of increase has been consistent, this week,” Dunn says.

Lockdowns in other states

States like California, Illinois and New York have taken drastic measures to keep the spread of the virus from worsening.  People in those states have reportedly been ordered to stay in their homes unless they have a vital reason to go out.  Dunn says officials in Utah are not discussing measures that extreme, but people still have to maintain a safe distance from each other.

She says, “It is essential that we maintain the social distancing restrictions that are currently in place and stay home when we’re sick so that we don’t have to get to that point.”

Preventing a rush at the hospitals

The biggest concern health workers have is preventing the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.  Dunn says, if that happens, there might not be enough respirators to go around.  Also, they want to protect the amount of protective gear at testing centers.

“We have the PPE, or personal protective equipment, to handle the demand today, but, not for the entire epidemic,” Dunn says.  “Hospitals have their own supplies and public health also maintains a stockpile.  We are organizing that stockpile to release to a variety of healthcare systems.  The stockpile we have will only last for two or three days.”

The majority of the cases in Utah are travel related, but Dunn says we are seeing the virus spread from person to person in the state.  Out of all the patients who tested positive, Dunn couldn’t specify how many needed to be hospitalized.

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