SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Some state health experts are expressing concern about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Utah. A number that has surged since May 27; twelve days after most of the state moved to yellow.
COVID-19 cases continue to rise
Dr. Emily Spivak, epidemiologist with U of U Health, says it’s hard to imagine things getting better, before they get worse.
“One thing to keep in mind, and we say this repeatedly, is that the hospitalization [numbers] are a lagging indicator,” says Spivak. “We would expect an increase of hospitalizations to lag from this sudden surge in about ten to twelve days from now.”
Governor Gary Herbert recently responded to a memo from state epidemiologist Dr. Anglea Dunn, which warns that Utah is in an acceleration phase. Herbert shared concern in the rise of cases, but said there are no plans to shut down the state’s economy.
I urge Utahns to protect themselves and their loved ones from the spread of the virus by following our common sense guidelines for social distancing, good hand hygiene and especially the use of face coverings. #StayStrongUtah
— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) June 23, 2020
An unwillingness to change course could be bad news for everyone, according to Spivak.
“The numbers [will] keep doing what they are doing,” she says. “I suspect they will without any sort of intervention.”
It begs the question whether there are any actions short of a statewide shutdown the government could take to slow down the case rate. Spivak thinks mandating mask wearing is a logical first idea. She says most people have given up the practice and she tends to get “strange looks” while wearing her face covering in public.
“You know, I want to say to people, I’m not wearing this mask for myself,” she explains. “I’m wearing this mask for you, because I have empathy for you.”
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