SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The first known case of the new coronavirus has arrived in Utah, state and local health officials said Friday night.
The person who has the virus is a man from Davis County who is older than 60 and believed to have been exposed to the virus while aboard a cruise ship, the Utah Department of Health, Davis County Health Department and the COVID-19 Community Task Force said in a statement.
The man was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship, where 21 people aboard the ship tested positive for the virus and 19 of them are crew members. The ship is off the coast of California as officials try to find a non-commercial port for it.
Because the Utah man appears to have contracted the virus on the ship, “this case does not represent community spread of COVID-19 in Utah,” the agencies said in their statement.
The man was tested for the virus after he returned to Utah, the agencies said.
“The patient is recovering at home and is under a county-issued isolation order. The Davis County Health Department will monitor the patient, as well as any of the patient’s close contacts,” the agencies said.
Earlier Friday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency over the new coronavirus.
The declaration helps the state access more money and resources to be prepared for the expected arrival of the virus, he said. The additional funding “will be instrumental in helping us prepare to slow the spread of coronavirus,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is leading a task force dealing with the virus.
The panel is making plans to reach out to vulnerable populations, increase testing capacity and ensure access to remote health care.
Authorities recommend people take preventative steps like washing hands, disinfecting shared surfaces and covering coughs. Anyone with symptoms matching coronavirus, including a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, is asked to stay away from public spaces.
Nationally, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 16 after Florida health officials said late Friday night that two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus died in the state. The number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across about half the states.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed over 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.