State officials report COVID-19 cases are beginning to flatten

Utah State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 3, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials continued to express hope that the state is starting to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases. The hopefulness came during Monday’s press conference as the state reported triple-digit cases for the sixth consecutive day.

Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the trend of growth shows that cases are tapering. She explained what is most important is if the trend continues.

“We’re evaluating that data further,” Dunn said. “We had some lower testing done last week and that can influence how many cases we identify, so we want to be able to account for that. We will definitely want to watch the next week or so, to ensure that our flattening of the curve continues and we start seeing a decrease.”

Monday’s press conference was held as the Utah Department of Health confirmed 144 new cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, a continued 5 percent growth rate. The report showed 3,213 total cases within the state, resulting in 268 hospitalizations throughout the outbreak. There have also been 68,311 people tested, an increase of 4,000 during the past day.

Dunn warned that cases could begin to drop off but spike again later this year. The second wave could occur in the fall when cold and flu season starts up.

“We are definitely expecting and preparing for a second wave in the fall of 2020. That doesn’t mean it is going to happen but it is something we want to be prepared for if it does follow the trend of other coronaviruses. What is particularly concerning about a potential second wave is, we don’t have a lot of cases in Utah, so we can’t expect a lot of herd immunity and a vaccine won’t be available by then. So, we are going to have to continue to rely upon people isolating themselves when they are sick to prevent the disease further.”

Monday’s press conference was held as the Bear River Health Department announced one new case of the virus, increasing the total number of cases in northern Utah to 57. There are 40 cases in Cache County, 17 cases in Box Elder County and none reported in Rich County.

Dunn explained that Gov. Gary Herbert’s “Utah Leads 2.0” plan to reopen the state’s economy will be implemented in phases so they can monitor the impact. Throughout the process, personal hygiene and social distancing recommendations will remain in effect.

“Utah Leads 2.0 is set to roll out slowly, so we are not going from the restrictions we have currently to everything being open, the way it was pre-covid. The gradual relaxation of restrictions will allow us to assess the impact of each relaxation and see how that impacts our number of cases. Then, if we need to and we see an increase, we’ll put those restrictions back in place before we start loosening them even more. So I think it is a great way to start.”

Officials have expanded the possible symptoms of coronavirus to include a fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, decrease sense of taste or smell, or a sore throat. Anyone with questions about whether to be tested can call 844-442-5224.

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