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Gov Herbert updates Utahs COVID19 preparedness
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Gov. Herbert outlines what is still needed to tackle COVID-19 in Utah

Governor Gary Herbert reports that Utah is making strides against COVID-19, but that more needs to be done. (Gov. Herbert, left, makes way for COVID Unified Command leader Jess Anderson, right. Credit: Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says the state is doing everything it can to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in Utah. But, he says that in some instances we’re falling short.  So on Tuesday, the governor revealed a personnel addition to Utah’s COVID-19 unified command.

Jess Anderson is the Commissioner of Public Safety, and he will now lead the unified command, a group that is housed in the emergency operations center inside the Utah State Capitol.

One example of the state of Utah falling short involves masks. At his daily press conference, the Governor said we don’t have nearly enough.

“We have 27,000 masks.  We need about two to three million,” he says.

Other COVID-19 developments

As of Tuesday, March 31, 887 people had confirmed cases of coronavirus, including two Utah County Sheriff’s deputies that are self-isolating.  So far, over 18,000 people have been tested. Five people have died and 73 people have needed hospitalization.

Recently, lab technicians and doctors all over Utah were able to make huge expansions in the number of people they can test, per day.  For example, Herbert said that on Monday, 4,000 people were tested. He called that a state record.

However, he wants doctors to be able to test 7,000 people on a daily basis.  New machines are coming to Utah that will be able to examine patients for COVID-19 within 15 minutes, but only 15 of those machines are coming to this state.  That only allows an additional 100 people to get the test, every day.

Tracking COVID-19 testing

Also, Herbert says the state is trying to develop a way to track how many people have contracted COVID-19 and recovered from it.  This would give people a better understanding of how the virus is affecting Utah.  However, Herbert says this is a very challenging thing to create.

“There are some out there who had the virus that didn’t even know they had it,” the governor said. “They’ve had a mild form of it.  Maybe they thought they had a traditional flu, or a cold, and didn’t even notice.  So, it’s hard to know how many have had it and recovered.”

“We have communicated with and brought home 37 Utahns off the Grand Princess cruise ship and those who have been stranded abroad, as well,”  said Jess Anderson, the Commissioner of Public Safety.

By Tuesday afternoon, Anderson says they will send their official disaster declaration to President Trump.  This will allow the state to get federal money and resources needed to handle the problem.  In the meantime, one of their biggest issues is collecting enough personal protective equipment for health workers who need it.

“So far, we’ve been receiving donations here in the Wasatch Front.  We’ve got three collection sites,” he says.

Governor Herbert also announced a free online workshop for small business owners dealing with economic problems from the virus.  It’s called “Navigating COVID-19: How To Save Your Business.”  People can find out more by emailing The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation at information@eccles.utah.edu.

 

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