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Utah up to 1,012 COVID-19 cases, Gov. Herbert announces executive orders

(Photo Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah sits at over 1,000 positive cases for coronavirus since the outbreak started.  Governor Gary Herbert announced several executive orders which he hopes will slow the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to helping others recover from the economic downturn.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Department of Health confirms 1,012 people have been infected, although that number doesn’t reflect the number of positive coronavirus cases who have recovered.  The state has a total of seven deaths, and the two most recent cases were over the age of 65.

The first coronavirus case in Utah was in March and since then over 20 thousand people have been tested. Out of those coronavirus tests, over 1,000 people tested positive in Utah.

Epidemiologist Angela Dunn says, “[Of those tests], 1,642 of those results came back, yesterday.  We’re still consistent at about a 5 percent positive rate for all people tested in Utah.”

Are there any signs that the state is beginning to “flatten the curve” when it comes to the number of coronavirus cases in Utah?  Dunn says , yes, there are signs and they’re being noticed by health officials, but, it’s far too soon to know if we’re hitting our peak.

“It has been this way for the past four or five days, but, because there is a two-week incubation period for COVID-19, we can’t be confident in those projections until we start seeing that decline and that flattening for a good two weeks,” she says.

Researchers from the University of Washington are predicting coronavirus cases will peak in the next two weeks across the country.  What are they predicting for Utah, specifically?

Dunn says, “They predict Utah will have a peak in cases at the end of April if we keep all of the same social distancing measures in place until then.”

In the meantime, Governor Herbert is announcing several orders that he hopes can control the spread of the virus.  Recently, he had asked Utahns not to visit state parks unless they lived in the same county where the park is located.  Now, it’s an official order which state workers will enforce.

“They will, in fact, check your ID when you come in and check your residence,” Herbert says.

He’s still encouraging everyone who has lost jobs or income to apply for unemployment services.  Workers at the Department of Workforce Services are reportedly working 24 hours a day to process those claims, but, Herbert says the sooner a person can apply, the better.

“We also recognize that there is a lag time that takes place before we can get the resources to the individual,” he says.

However, those people will not have to worry about rent for another 45 days.  Herbert is issuing an executive order saying all tenants can defer their rent payments until May 15th.

“Also, until May 15th, landlords cannot initiate eviction notices,” Herbert says.

Governor Herbert says his office is speaking with lawmakers about planning a special session. The session will look at how Utah’s  “Rainy Day Fund” can be used to soften the economic blow from coronavirus.  He expects that special session to happen soon.

“We have been a government that’s fiscally prudent.  We have not spent foolishly in times past.  In fact, we’ve saved for the ‘rainy day.’  This is, in fact, a ‘rainy day’ time,” Herbert says.

There is one thing that Herbert did NOT order.  He says he is not going to force all students in the state to repeat their current grade next year.  He says that was an April Fool’s joke, and his office was flooded with calls about it.



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