SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert praised the efforts of those who are helping small businesses in the state and outlining a new focus to slow the spread of COVID-19 among immigrants. The comments came during Thursday’s press conference at the state capitol.
Gov. Herbert expressed appreciation for those who are complying with his Stay Safe Stay Home recommendations and other regulations. Also, for members of the State’s Coronavirus Task Force, who are helping to implement his recovery plan, Utah Leads Together 2.0.
“I don’t think we can say thank you enough,” said Gov. Herbert. “Particularly to the people of Utah, who under difficult circumstances are trying to comply with commonsense behaviors to help us slow the spread and stop the spread. Also, to help us transition back to economic vitality and protect lives at the same time.”
New numbers show 1,149 small businesses in the state have applied for the Bridge Loan Program. It is estimated that the loans will help more than 15,000 jobs. Also, there have been 21,000 federal loans approved that will bring approximately 3.6 billion dollars to businesses throughout the state. 18,000 applications are still waiting to be approved.
Gov. Herbert also announced the formation of a new multicultural subcommittee, to address the higher percentage of COVID-19 infections among Latinos and Polynesians in the state.
“We have found by data that we have more significant challenges with our minority groups. Some just because we have language barriers that are maybe in the way and some cultural barriers. We are concerned that they understand and get the information necessary for them to survive during this troubled time. The data that we have right now from our health department indicates that we have a higher rate of infection amongst our Hispanic Latinos and our Pacific Islanders. We want to see what we can do to remedy that situation.”
Thursday’s press conference was held as the Utah Department of Health confirmed 149 new cases of COVID-19 during the past 24 hours, a 5 percent growth rate. The report showed 3,612 total cases within the state, resulting in 301 hospitalizations throughout the outbreak. There was also one more death reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 35. The man was over the age of 60 in Salt Lake County and living at a long term care facility.
Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the numbers are showing that social distancing guidelines are having an effect on the spread of the virus.
“In terms of tracking the specific movements of individuals,” explained Dunn, “whether they are quarantined, self-isolated or just the general public, we are not doing that in public health. But we do know from traffic patterns and other indicators that social distancing is happening and people are moving around less, intending to stay closer to home.”
Thursday’s status hearing was held as the Bear River Health Department announced no new cases in northern Utah, the fifth consecutive day of no increase. There are 40 cases in Cache County, 16 cases in Box Elder County and none reported in Rich County.