SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise daily in the state of Utah and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox says increased testing is the way health officials are going to be able to slow the spread of the virus and fatalities that come with it.
“The countries that have been able to get ahead of this have done it through testing, contact tracing, and isolation,” Lt. Governor Cox, (R) Utah, told ABC4 News.
With more than 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Utah and one death, Cox says saving lives comes down to testing.
“We are social distancing and that piece absolutely matters to slow the spread of it. But to get really surgical about what we’re doing, this is the only way to do it and we can’t do it if we don’t have enough testing.”
Healthcare workers are now able to test 2,600 Utahns daily which the Lt. Governor says will lead to a more accurate assessment of how fast and widespread COVID-19 is in Utah.
“Once we can find those positive cases we can isolate them. We can go back and do what is called contact tracing and find out who they’ve had contact with over the past several days. We can test them and isolate them if they test positive and that’s how we prevent the spread of this.”
Cox called the global pandemic “unprecidented” and said the small amount of testing that was being done at the outstart made it difficult to slow the spread of the virus.
“It did make it impossible for us to know exactly where it is which is why we were the first state to limit mass gatherings to 100 or less. We closed schools very early on and we were one of the first states to do that and we had to do that because we didn’t have a good sense.”
Even though getting a test could mean the difference between life or death, and although Utah has increased its testing capacity, Lt. Governor Cox says not everyone will be tested.
“It’s impossible, just by the sheer numbers to test everyone.”
Despite the test shortage, Cox says he and others on the front line of this battle are working around the clock to do everything they can.
“It’s definitely a concern for all of us. We’re trying to find that balance between saving lives and making sure that we’re doing everything that we possibly can. We’re watching those numbers very, very carefully. We have our experts that are looking at this and making the very best decisions possible.”
Experts say the most difficult days lay ahead and it will take a community to weather the approaching storm.
“We know there are difficult times ahead and I think it’s important to share that message as well and my hope is that that will inspire people to do their part and to make sure they’re not spreading this.”
Coming up Thursday night at 10 is part two of Brittany Johnson’s interview with the Lt. Governor. The interview will focus on how prepared Utah officials were for this pandemic and look ahead to long term impacts this virus can have on the state.
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