SALT LAKE COUNTY – Some positive signs when it comes to the spread of coronavirus in Salt Lake County. However, county officials say too many people are ignoring orders on social distancing.
County health officials say the current count of confirmed cases is 463, although that doesn’t include the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19. Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards says they’re still seeing new patients every day, but, the rate of growth is actually encouraging.
He says, “These are all new cases that you see, but you see that decline over the past six days, or so. This is happening even with more testing being done.”
This gives the county a bit of hope for the future spread of the virus. Elected officials say this makes flattening the curve feel more like a hill, and not Mount Olympus like it previously was. However, they’re very concerned about the high number of positive tests happening within people between the ages of 21 and 40.
“This significant population is not taking the social distancing message seriously,” Edwards says.
Analysts also say they have lots of evidence showing how bad the contagion would be had people not taken steps to socially isolate themselves. County Intelligence Section Chief David Schuld says their data can tell that if these measures weren’t taken, the disease would have spread much quicker.
Schuld says, “Our models estimate reporting the same number of confirmed cases, that is 463 confirmed cases, on March 18th, 15 days ago.”
County Mayor Jenny Wilson says she still sees large groups of people playing or hanging out in parks. Plus, employers are still having big groups of workers close together. She is calling for a statewide stay at home order, but, until that happens, she says police officers will tell these groups to break up when they see them.
Wilson says, “The next few weeks will be critical as we go up the epidemic curve. The degree we go up that curve is up to you.”
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera says if an officer sees a large group, they will just talk to them about how quickly the virus can spread. If those groups don’t break up, the officer could give them a verbal warning or cite them for a Class B misdemeanor. So far, Rivera says no officers have needed to cite anyone.
Rivera also announced the first positive test for coronavirus within the Salt Lake County jail. That inmate is isolated and all other inmates of that unit have been placed into medical quarantine cells.