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UDOH calls for protective gear donations to combat coronavirus in Utah

FILE: Workers at ARUP Laboratories, where COVID-19 testing takes place. Salt Lake County Health Department announced it would be extending free COVID-19 testing, even for those not experiencing symptoms. (Credit: ARUP)

SALT LAKE CITY – As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Utah increases, state health officials are calling for donations of personal protective equipment.  With the help of protective gear donations, they hoping to be ready just in case we see a big surge in hospitalizations.

As of March 25, there were 346 known COVID-19 patients in the state, with over 6,800 people being tested.  Health officials say the rates of infection and hospitalization are staying relatively steady, and we’re not seeing an “exponential” growth in the number of infected people like in other states.

The Utah Department of Health wants to be ready in the event things get much, much worse.

State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn says, “We really need surgical grade gowns, gloves, face shields, N95 masks and surgical masks.”

Dunn says the state isn’t in dire need, yet.  However, the limited supply of PPE was always a big concern for UDOH analysts.  Luckily, people in other industries use PPE similar to what health care workers do, and Dunn says they’re reaching out to workers in those fields.

“If you’re in construction, mining or another industry that uses, for example, N95 masks, those are approved for use in the health care system,” she says.

The state is also trying to protect the amount of gear they have on hand and in hospitals.

Dunn says, “We’re also asking that all health professionals and allied health professionals stop non-essential use of personal protective equipment so that we do have a supply for health care workers.”

People can log onto the state’s coronavirus website and a form will guide them as to how they can make these donations.  For now, they can’t accept any homemade items.  However, Dunn says individuals can still use things like homemade masks, if they wish.

“If measures such as that help you remind yourself not to touch your face, that could be a good idea,” she says.



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