SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s governor joined several technology companies Thursday in announcing a collaboration to increase testing for the coronavirus throughout the state. The partnership news came as positive cases in northern Utah and throughout the state continued to climb.
A new website, testutah.com has been launched, focusing on assessing those that need to be tested, providing testing sites and tracing those who have the virus. Any resident can fill out the assessment survey, to determine whether they should be tested.
Gov. Gary Herbert said the new state numbers are encouraging and gives hope that they are slowing the spread of COVID-19. He feels like the state is making some headway.
“The key issue for us is to make sure we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system,” said Herbert. “We have limited numbers of beds and equipment. So, if we can keep the slow down, we’ll make it so the healthcare system can accommodate those who need healthcare. That is a key to having less fatalities and less serious illness.”
There are now 1074 cases of coronavirus within the state, an increase of just 62 cases within the last 24 hours. The number of fatalities remained the same at 7. The state has now tested 21,065 residents.
Utah state epidemiologist Angela Dunn said she is cautious about drawing any assumptions from the low number of positive cases during the past day. She explained the report of cases could be tied to the smaller number of test results that came in.
“We are cautious about drawing any conclusions from this number because we also noticed a decrease in lab results reported (Wednesday),” said Dunn. “We had 910 lab results reported. This could represent a decrease in demand from the weekend. We do have about a two or three day lag in our negative tests coming in.”
The Bear River Health Department announced the number of cases in Cache County increased to 15, with 9 cases still in Box Elder County. It was the largest daily increase recorded so far. Rich, Franklin and Bear Lake counties have yet to have a positive case.
Dunn explained that there is a lot of encouraging data coming out of the state as they increase the number of tests given each day. It’s helping them learn more about how the virus is spread and what citizens can do to prevent it.
“This is more important reasons for following these social distancing recommendations that have been put forth by Governor Herbert,” Dunn said. “The best way to prevent a symptomatic spread of a disease is to be exposed to as few people as possible, and that is exactly what the social distancing recommendations do.”
Earlier, details about a public and private partnership with Silicone Slopes was announced. The “Crush the Curve” campaign will focus on increasing the number of COVID-19 tests administered to try and achieve the state’s goal of 7,000 a day.
Herbert said the tech companies have agreed to launch eight privately run testing sites. Two sites have already started.
“This is really a first of its kind, public private partnership that is going to help us accelerate testing for COVID-19 in Utah,” Herbert explained. “You know our goal is 7,000 a day. We are not there yet but this is a major step in achieving that goal.”