Officials report COVID-19 is five times as deadly in Utah as the flu and release new school recommendations

Gov. Gary Herbert removes a face mask before speaking at a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY — Officials continued to stress the importance of face masks, social distancing and good hygiene, to combat the spread of COVID-19. The recommendations were stressed as health officials illustrated the increased death rate from the virus and outlined new guidelines for reopening schools.

Utah State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn said there are several key differences between COVID-19 and the yearly flu that concerns healthcare workers. Most notably, it is more infectious and deadly.

Already to date, we’ve had twice as many hospitalizations and five times as many deaths due to COVID-19 compared to last year’s flu season,” said Dunn.

The press conference was held hours after Gov. Gary Herbert approved Logan City Mayor Holly Daines’ mask mandate. It requires face coverings to be worn indoors in public places whenever contact with other individuals is likely and outdoors whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.

Dunn spoke about face masks during Thursday’s press conference, explaining that state numbers show they are effective. Salt Lake County, who implemented a similar mandate, have seen a decrease in cases during the past month.

“We know that Salt Lake County is seeing a true decrease in cases. About two-weeks after their mask mandate went into effect, we have seen a really sharp decline and that is also contributing to our overall statewide decline in cases. For most of the pandemic, Salt Lake County contributed to over 50 percent of our cases statewide. Now they are about 40-45 percent of our cases. So they are dropping quicker than surrounding jurisdictions across the state.”

Thursday numbers from the Utah State Department of Health showed the decrease in new cases continuing. 508 cases of the disease were reported during the past 24-hours. At the same time, nine more deaths were reported.

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, displays a COVID-19 school manual during a briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

Dunn expressed hope in numbers over the past several weeks that have begun decreasing. She said it is important that the state continue the downward trajectory.

“We have the opportunity to start school with case counts decreasing and being more in control. To do this, we need everybody to continue wearing face masks in public, practicing physical distancing, staying home when you are ill and using good hand hygiene. If we all do these things, we will continue to see a decrease in cases and start school as safely as possible.”

Less than a month before schools are planned to restart, state leaders also released a new manual to guide educators on how to safely reopen classrooms. The 102 page document provides public health recommendations to help protect students, teachers, and employees.

Gov. Herbert said there is no guarantee, stopping the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms compared to anywhere else. The School Manual though will try to minimize the risks and address what to do if there is an outbreak.

“If we do have spread,” explained Herbert, “there (are) protocols for what we do if it happens, including closing down the classroom and maybe closing down the school. We are not going to sit back in the corner, wring our hands and say ‘well, I guess we can’t do anything.’ We can do something and we may be doing more distance learning than we would like too, opposed to face-to-face, but we will find this out as we work together to find the solution.”

State officials said they will be updating the school guidelines as the situation demands.

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  • Candle July 30, 2020 at 4:40 pm Reply

    Angela Dunn’s comment about Covid19 being “5 times as deadly as the flu was last year” is completely misleading and should’ve come with an explanation and some context. Last year’s flu season was incredibly mild. Why not compare it to the 2016-17 or 2017-18 seasons which were severe flu seasons? Or better yet, compare it to a ten-year average? Covid is only about 1.5 times deadlier than the 2017/18 and 2016/17 flu seasons. If you’re a public official, and you make a comment like that, you’re not informing the public, you’re manipulating them.

    Also, the pull-out quote in the article doesn’t even mention the flu. It just says we’ve had fives times the death due to Covid-19. That’s just bad and irresponsible journalism. Is it any wonder people are panicked and spooked?

    • Free Bird July 30, 2020 at 7:12 pm Reply

      Awesome job Candle! They forgot to mention all of the depression and suicides related to these draconian measures, which is by far higher then the deaths by this virus.

  • S July 30, 2020 at 5:15 pm Reply

    Most notably, it is more infectious and deadly…………BRING on The RoDEo?!?!?!?!?…………….LOGAN CITY HAS FAILED US. VOTE THEM OUT

  • lex July 30, 2020 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Gov. Herbert you are failing this state!! Please for all of our sakes, do the research about the negative affects of wearing masks and the true low numbers of Covid cases and deaths. I find numerous videos every day debunking the numbers and proving the damage of wearing masks on our health, both physical as well as social and psycological. You owe the people of Utah to do your own homework and find out the truth about Covid and wearing masks! Please! Please! Please!

  • L July 30, 2020 at 10:46 pm Reply

    We have a prevention and cure for Covid19! It’s called Hydroxychloriqin. It’s been proven by numerous front line physicians to work well in curing the virus and is safe and effective. It’s also used in smaller doses as a prevention. It’s been around for over 70 years and is actually sold over the counter as a supplement in numerous countries. It you fail to find information it’s because it’s been sensored by the media and it’s outlets because they don’t want to word getting out! I just ask you all to please educate yourselves and stop this madness!

  • Annina Mitchell July 31, 2020 at 8:37 am Reply

    It is depressing to read the comments about this article. Most of them only show how naive, ill informed and biologically ignorant these readers are.

  • Joseph Smith July 31, 2020 at 9:12 am Reply

    Hydroxychloriqin! Videos! Masks are the problem! Hahaha.

    I used to think it was sad, but now it’s just funny and entertaining how stupid and naive people are. The NASCAR/Religious base that are are the Trump supporters are nothing if not loyal. I’ll give you that. Loyal sheep. And the baaaaaaa noise you hear is sound of them regurgitating whatever they hear from Hannity, Rush, or Breitbart. The REAL news!

    It’s hopeless to think that you’d wise up. You’re just not intelligent. The easy con!

  • Crowharp July 31, 2020 at 9:28 am Reply

    I’m reading these comments and just shaking my head… No wonder Utah is always depicted as a land of superstitious hillbillies. This makes me sad. It’s not that hard to source your “research” for credibility. Stop trying to confirm your bias. Reliable, scientifically accurate information is really available; it’s not hiding in the dark, conspiratorial corners of the interwebs.

  • B July 31, 2020 at 11:11 am Reply

    For those of you commenting on the “misleading” COVID-19 statistics, you should provide references to your own claims. Otherwise, how do I know that your statistics aren’t misleading? Here is information about COVID-19 and influenza in the United States, directly from the CDC website:

    As of July 30, 2020:
    Total cases of COVID-19: 4,405,932
    Total deaths due to COVID-19: 150,284
    So that equates to a death rate of 0.0341 or 3.41%.

    For the flu this season:

    Total estimated cases: 39,000,000-56,000,000
    Total estimated deaths: 24,000-62,000
    Even if we use the highest estimate of deaths and lowest estimate of cases (62,000/39,000,000) that still puts the death rate at: 0.00159 or 0.159%

    Comparing death rate of COVID-19 to the flu – 3.41/0.159 = 21.45

    **21.45 times more deadly!**

    Somebody referenced the 2017/18 and 2016/17 flu season as more severe than last year, so let’s compare the data from those years:

    Flu for 2017/18:
    Total estimated cases: 45,000,000
    Total estimated deaths: 61,000
    Death rate: 0.00135 or 0.135%

    Flu for 2016/17:
    Total estimated cases: 29,000,000
    Total estimated deaths: 38,000
    Death rate: 0.00131 or 0.131%

    And those death rates are pretty steady from year to year. Yes, we had more cases in 2017/18 than other years, but the rate was fairly similar.

    If you just study the data it is quite apparent that COVID-19 is much deadlier than the flu. Please stop spreading misinformation if you don’t have data or references to back it up.

  • Candle July 31, 2020 at 12:48 pm Reply

    …also, the CDC’s best estimate for IFR is 0.65 not 3.41.

  • Joseph Smith July 31, 2020 at 1:39 pm Reply

    Nooooo!!! Not the CDC! That’s part of the Deep State! Statistics? Fake News! Science? Fake News!

    Give me my InfoWars! Alex Jones is uncovering all the issues! He and Rush and Hannity…they will tell me the REAL truth!

    It’s all a conspiracy! I don’t have any control! Poor me!

  • Amberlyn July 31, 2020 at 10:21 pm Reply

    Listen to yourselves. Who cares!!!! Can’t you all see that this virus has done more damage psychologically then physically to people. This has created such a divide between people. Everyone thinks they’re right, when in fact no one is right. This is a virus. The virus mutates constantly. Hence why when we first started this pandemic there were 3 symptom checkers. Now there are 7-9 symptoms to watch out for. Every day scientist/doctors are finding out more information about the virus and a lot of what they originally claimed is proven untrue. People jumped to conclusions way too quickly without knowing all the details. Media has blown this completely out of context.
    All that being said, Covid-19 is here for a lifetime. So the question is when will you get it? Will you die from it? The answer is you could get it tomorrow, you could have already had it, you could get it 10 years from now etc. Will you die from it, and the answer is probably not. Unless you have underlying health issues, or a weakened immune system (maybe from a recent cold, infection, allergies etc) and you’re not already close to dying from age.
    What happened to everyone’s manners and being respectful and helping others? We have lost our freedom of speech without someone reacting with a negative opinion, we’ve distanced ourselves from family and friends, people have become lazy and are enjoying their unemployment checks a little too much.
    Please for the love, be kind, be respectful, help where you can, and stop complaining. We are destroying one another and this virus will have control of our lives if we don’t change something. Masks are ridiculous and I’m speaking from a healthcare stand point. However, do what we have to but don’t let this virus scare you. Once again it’s here to stay for a lifetime. We will all get covid-19 unless you die before. Just remember we all eventually die, some sooner than others, but their life’s journey was complete.

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