LOGAN – On Saturday, the Bear River Health Department (BRHD) released an order further restricting certain business practices in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. One of the orders specifically limits surgical centers not located in a hospital. The order closes these surgical centers specifically to preserve valuable and scarce Personal Protective Equipment and other resources that will likely be needed during the pandemic.
All gyms, health clubs, exercise studios, spas, fitness centers, museums and entertainment venues are also to be closed.
It orders all restaurants to observe “no contact delivery” to further limit any person-to-person contact. Additionally, the BRHD order provided guidelines and restrictions for hair and nail salons, tanning salons, body art salons, physical therapy clinics and services and child day care facilities and services to support Governor Herbert’s directives which were announced Friday.
To see the order in its entirety, click here: BRHD-Order-3-28-20-1.
On Saturday, BRHD Executive Director Lloyd Berentzen addressed the events of the COVID-19 era:
Q-Utahns read Saturday of the items in the Governor’s new directives. And at the same time, the BRHD Board of Health released a health order. Tell us about it:
A-“One of the things they have encouraged us at the local level is to assess where we’re at in our area. Here in Cache and Rich and Box Elder counties as of yesterday we had nine cases of COVID-19, much fewer than some counties south of us. Until two days ago, all of the cases in our district were travel-related. Since then we have had two that are called ‘community spread,’ in other words, spread within our community and not contracted while traveling. Once you move into that category of new cases, that heightens what you need to do to lock things down.”
Q-We recognize once a case is identified in your district, BRHD is responsible to conduct an investigation. And there will be more cases.
A-“Yes, we know that the number of cases is going to increase, and what we try to do is get on those as soon as possible, recognize where those contacts have been, be sure we get folks into quarantine or isolation. And we have found most people contracting the disease are so cooperative and willing to do that. They want to be part of the solution, too.”
Q-How does that process begin?
A-“Whenever we are notified there is a positive case, we immediately start an epidemiological investigation where we do contact tracing. One case we had yesterday ended up taking six staff members a good portion of the day. They just went through everything they needed to in order to make sure we had traced back to whatever contacts there could have been some sort of exposure to.”
Q-How long are you in contact with these folks who have contracted COVID-19?
A-“There are temperatures reported twice a day, we’ll have to monitor them, we can do that over the phone. It’s a fairly intensive process we go through as we watch them until they are no longer symptomatic. Once they have recovered, they can move on.”
Q-We all see what this pandemic is doing to the economy, all the way down to our local business community. From where you are in this, what can be done to help them?
A-“One of the things I have my environmental staff doing right now is trying to get a group of owners of local restaurants together, and ask ‘What can we do to follow safe protocol that might one day make it so that we could have people go in and sit down for a meal again?’ Perhaps we could have people come to eat by appointment only, maybe they could have temperature checks at the door. Maybe there could be a few people sitting at a table, at every other table, with the tables six to eight feet apart. We are looking for creative ways to do things so it doesn’t decimate the economy. It would be great to find something like that, while at the very same time making sure we are creating assurances for the safety of everyone.”
Q-We are worried in this country, many are fearful of the uncertainty.
A-“I can tell everyone, they don’t need to walk around in fear. They can have confidence in the systems and the intervention that is going on. We’re going to get through this. We’ll be okay. We recognize there is so much noise, some on social media. This stuff is overwhelming people; so we’re really concerned not only about their physical but their mental health. They need to know they can have confidence in the system. Remember, the order from our Board goes for two weeks, then we’re going to evaluate. We use science in everything we do and what we do is in the best interest of the public.”
Q-Finally, what is your best advice?
A-“If we can get those 60 and over, those who are immuno-compromised, those who have underlying health conditions, to stay home the next four or five weeks or so, and keep them out of the hospital, it will make a big difference. They are the most vulnerable.”