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Possible ‘flattening of the curve’ for COVID-19 in Utah? Some state officials believe it’s happening

FILE: State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn, left, and ASL interpreter Trenton Marsh, upper right, during a daily COVID-19 briefing. (Credit: KSL TV, April 16, 2020)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL –  Utah officials say there are early indications of “flattening the curve,” or, that the state may soon see a decrease in the number of new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus.

However, they also say Utahns shouldn’t be celebrating just yet.

Latest numbers

The latest numbers from the Utah Department of Health show there are now 2,683 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Utah, with 238 of those patients requiring hospitalization.  On Thursday state officials announced one more death related to the virus in Utah, raising the total to 21.  The latest death involved a man in Salt Lake County older than 85 years old who lived in a long-term care center before he was hospitalized.

Despite this, when Lt. Governor Spencer Cox spoke Thursday on KSL Newsradio, he made a bold statement.

“I think we can now say that Utah has, indeed, flattened the curve,” he said.

Cox acknowledges the number of new cases hasn’t trended down as much as health officials would like, but, a slowdown in the rate of infection is a very promising sign.

“A month ago, our rate of spread was for every one person that had it, they were giving it to three to five other people,” Cox said. “Now, for every one person that’s getting it, they’re giving it to one other person.”

There are a few things that need to happen before we would be able to confirm the curve is flattening.  One of those things, according to state epidemiologist Angela Dunn, is a slowdown in the number of new cases.

“We are seeing an additional increase in cases every day,” Dunn said during her daily COVID-19 briefing. “however, that growth rate has been slowing over the past several days.  So, the signs are good.”

“It is potentially a sign that we have started to flatten it.”

New cases are key to flattening the curve

What remains to be seen is an actual decrease in the number of new cases.  Using the example of the Lt. Governor above, a decrease in new cases means that every one person with the virus would give it to less than one other person.

“We need to give it at least a couple of weeks of this continuous flattening before we can make assumptions about the trends,” Dunn said.

She also said that now is definitely not the time to stop social distancing or to stop believing that the danger of COVID-19 coronavirus is completely gone.

“We have to be very careful this early in the slowing of the growth rate because any misstep could set a wildfire off and we could start seeing a spike in cases again.”

Dunn continues to ask for more people to come forward and be tested for COVID-19, adding that state labs and private testing centers never reached their capacity on how many tests they could give.



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 Coronavirus resources

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirusis transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keepchildren and those with compromised immune systemsaway from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States