‘We do anticipate a greater spread of COVID-19 in Utah,’ health officials say

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah lost its first patient to COVID-19 at Lakeview Hospital in Davis County Sunday.

State health officials said a Davis County man over the age of 60 was admitted to Lakeview Hospital. Doctors confirmed he had COVID-19 on Saturday, and the man died on Sunday.

Brian Hatch with the Davis County Health Department said, “Our loss today underscores the importance of everyone following the guidance of local and state public health partners as well as the state and community leaders to social distance, wash your hands often, and stay home when you’re sick.”

Health Department officials said the man went to an area with COVID-19 community spread, adding he spent 15 minutes or more with a person who has COVID-19.

Doctors said his family called in the man’s symptoms and he was admitted to the hospital two days ago.

“That allowed us to use the proper personal protective equipment, to not only take care of the patient but to keep our staff and our other patients safe,” Baumann added.

Governor Gary Herbert and wife Jeanette offering their deepest sympathies to the family.

“The pain this family must be feeling right now puts into perspective the sacrifices we are all making to keep one another safe and healthy,” said the governor. “We encourage everyone to do their part by practicing safe health practices, including social distancing.”

State Epidemiologist, Angela Dunn made a plea for those over 60 and the most vulnerable to avoid contact with others while in self-isolation.

She said, “Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 needs to stay home and self isolate for at least 7 days and 72 hours after their symptoms resolve.”

As the family and community grieve the loss, doctors are working on more than 180 cases of people with COVID-19.

“We currently have a hospitalization rate of about 10 percent,” said Dr. Dunn. “We do anticipate a greater spread of COVID-19 in Utah”

Dr. Dunn told ABC4.com’s Jason Nguyen urgent cares and emergency rooms are feeling overwhelmed.

“We are in that acceleration phase and we anticipate more cases before we start seeing a deceleration,” said Dr. Dunn.

When asked if we are close to overwhelming Utah’s healthcare system, Dr. Dunn said, “We are not close to it now. Currently, all of our healthcare systems are able to maintain capacity and care for patients appropriately and effectively.”

Nguyen asked the doctor about masks and if Utahns should make them at home for healthcare officials?

Dr. Dunn said, “We here in Utah do not have a current shortage, we are just anticipating it. So we are doing everything we can to minimize the use of PPE and leave it for only those who are essential services. So we haven’t here in Utah had to consider making masks. But, I know that other states have gotten into that position and we are just trying to do everything we can so we don’t have to get there.”

In the meantime, the Davis County Health Department is working to identify and talk to anyone who was in close contact with the man who died from COVID-19, emploring them to self-isolate and contact health officials as soon as possible.

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