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Utah Gets Its First Case Of Coronavirus

Photo of press conference.
Utah Coronavirus Task Force Twitter
Utah officials announced the state's first case of COVID-19 on Friday night.

Officials with the Utah Department of Health announced the first positive test of COVID-19 in the state Friday night. The announcement came just hours after Gov. Gary Herbery declared a state of emergency amid fears of an outbreak.

Officials said the patient is believed to have contracted the disease while aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. After showing symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, the patient visited their doctor. 

Testing from the Utah Public Health Laboratory came back as “presumptive positive.”

The patient, whose name has not been released, is listed as over the age of 60 and a Davis County resident who would be allowed to recover at home but under a county issued isolation order. 

“Our first priority will be ensuring the patient’s family members and medical providers are monitored for potential symptoms and tested, if necessary,” said Brian Hatch, director of the Davis County Health Department in a press release. “We will also work closely with the patient to determine if they may have exposed any other members of the community.”

Officials said this does not represent a community spread. Earlier on Friday, Mark Jorgensen was released from an Intermountain Healthcare facility in Murray and allowed to return to his St. George home after continuing to test positive for the virus, but showing no symptoms.

Jorgensen contracted it while abroad, therefore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not count it as a Utah case. He was also placed under state issued quarantine until he tests negative for the disease twice. 

State health officials are encouraging people to wash their hands often and take other precautions to prevent its spread, like disinfecting shared surfaces and covering their coughs. Utah has also formed a coronavirus task force.

The fear of a virus outbreak has led to a run on stores for bottled water and other supplies. But the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has said there is no need to stock up on a surplus of bottled water since public drinking water systems can protect against water-borne viral infections — including coronavirus.

Ross Terrell is the managing editor at KUER.
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