Governor says as COVID numbers drop, it’s time to open schools

FILE PHOTO - Image courtesy of Dreamstime

LOGAN – Governor Gary Herbert praised the collaboration and cooperation of many around the state when he opened his press conference Thursday. With the Washington School District opening Thursday in southern Utah, he said this is the right time to open schools statewide.

“I’m very encouraged, I’m cautiously optimistic that we are in a good place to start this,” Gov. Herbert said. “I think we will do it in a safe way for our students and for our teachers; minimize the risk to our students and to our teachers with what we have put in place. I also like the trends that we see, that are taking place.

The case numbers are falling and the transmission rates have been going down. So I think we are in a good place.”

There were questions about testing when the UDOH Deputy Director Nathan Checketts reported a 20-to-30 percent reduction in the demand for testing. He said their best information is that there is less of a prevalence of the disease in the state and there has been less demand.

“As we talk to our sample collection partners — the University of Utah and Intermountain and others that are operating the sites on the front line — they are reporting the same thing, and have been over the last couple of weeks, where they have been reporting 20-30 percent reductions in the number of people coming in to their sites,” Checketts explained. “That would be a great development and we’re hoping that’s what the data is showing us.“

Thursday’s new numbers from the Utah Department of Health indicate 334 new positive cases of the coronavirus in Utah the last 24 hours. There were 3,447 people tested since Wednesday which is below the 354 average the last seven days.

There have been 45,424 positive tests in Utah since the outbreak in March.

The rolling seven-day average for percent of positive lab tests remains at 8.6 percent.

There were 14 positive tests in the Bear River Health district since in the last 24 hours (10 in Cache County and four in Box Elder County).

There have been 2,358 positive tests recorded in the Bear River district with 1,960 in Cache County and  390 in Box Elder County plus eight in Rich County.

Also, among the  2,358 total positive cases in the Bear River District, 1,983 are termed recovered.

There are two COVID patients from the district hospitalized, both from Cache County.

There have been 353 COVID-19 deaths in Utah, an increase of two since Wednesday. Both were Salt Lake County residents, a male, between 65-84 and not  hospitalized at the time of death and a female, older than 85, who was a long-term care facility patient.

Among the 45,424 positive tests for the disease in Utah since the start of the pandemic, 35,817 are considered recovered.

As of Thursday 584,656 Utahns have been tested for the disease.

There are currently 184 Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 and total hospitalizations from the start of the  outbreak is 2,721.

Included in Idaho’s most recent update  are 26,133 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There have been 246 COVID deaths in the state with 52 positive tests in Franklin County, 20 positives in Bear Lake County and 16 in Oneida County.

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