Health officials call for more residents to be tested as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decrease

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing from the Presentation room at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 13, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn repeated her plea for Utahans to be tested for COVID-19 after the number of new cases throughout the state continued to drop. The doctor, along with other officials from the Coronavirus Task Force, spoke during a Monday afternoon press conference, also announcing that the state’s new travel declaration order was being halted because of cellphone glitches.

Dunn said the Utah Department of Health has a surplus of testing supplies and are needing residents to get tested. To help citizens know whether they should undergo a test, the criteria has been expanded from three to six possible symptoms.

“The six symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, decrease sense of taste or smell, or a sore throat,” explained Dunn. “For individuals and healthcare providers, we really encourage you to seek testing if you have any one of these six symptoms. This is an essential data element for us to know and understand, in order to really capture the true burden of COVID-19 across our state and be able to respond effectively.”

The press conference was held as new figures were released showing the continued decrease in the number of new cases. The report showed 2,363 cases of the virus have been confirmed within the state, an increase of 60 patients since Sunday afternoon. Those cases have resulted in 201 hospitalizations and 18 deaths. To date, 45,787 people have now been tested.

Dunn couldn’t provide a specific date for when the Stay Safe Stay Home directive would be lifted. She said the health department is working with the governor’s office to determine specific measures when businesses can safely reopen.

“Things we are looking at include the rate of cases, we want to see a steady decline in our growth rate. We also want to maintain our capacity to be able to test anybody who needs testing but also contact tracing, isolating, quarantining individuals that need to have that happen as well. All of those factors will be considered when we are looking at policies to reopen pieces of our economy.”

Utah has seen a decrease in the new virus cases during the past six days after 119 new cases were reported April 6. The largest number of cases counted in one day was 189. The decrease could also be related to a steady decline in the number of tests completed.

Dunn said health officials can’t report yet if Utah’s cases have peaked. They are still planning for a worst case scenario but hoping for the best.

“Right now, the growth rate of our cases has been declining over the past several days. With this outbreak, we are looking at a two-week trend in order to start making any assumptions because the incubation period is two weeks. So, we are hoping this trend stays consistent, but in order to really have faith behind the numbers we need to get more people tested so that we have more confidence in our understanding of the burden of disease throughout Utah.”

Monday’s press conference was held as the Bear River Health Department announced three new cases of the virus in Cache County, bringing the total number of cases in Northern Utah to 49. There are now 36 cases in Cache County, 13 cases in Box Elder County and none reported in Rich County.

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  • Blayne April 14, 2020 at 4:23 pm Reply

    Does this seem odd to anyone? They seem disappointed that there aren’t more cases of the virus. So all this mass hysteria and forcing businesses to close and people to lose jobs is all for naught. We NEED more cases to justify this silliness!

    • AH April 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm Reply

      I’m pretty sure more data means better plans of how to handle things going forward. I don’t think they “want” people to be sick. They want sick people to get tested, so they can see the trends of the virus 🤦🏻‍♀️

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