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PM News Brief: Aftershocks, COVID-19 & Earthquake Damage

Men in vests point to a damaged building.
Sonja Hutson
Workers survey damage outside a building in downtown Salt Lake City after the city experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Crews were working to retrofit the building, which dates back to the 19th century.

Wednesday afternoon, March 18, 2020


Hospitals Deal With Earthquake And COVID-19

Intermountain Healthcare saw little structural damage, but did treat a few patients for minor earthquake related injuries. Meanwhile, University of Utah Health set up medical tents in front of its hospital to assess potential damage and closed some buildings in Salt Lake City and Midvale. Both health care facilities continued to implement COVID-19 restrictions after the Magna earthquake that struck Wednesday morning. — Jessica Lowell

Preparation Tips For Aftershocks 

The Wasatch Front experienced more than 50 aftershocks following its biggest earthquake in almost 30 years. Joe Dougherty, with the Division of Emergency Management, said a 5.7 magnitude quake is big for Utah, and people should check for damage, and pay close attention to their gas lines. Residents should stay prepared and if they do feel a big shake, drop to the ground, take cover and hold on. Keep a flashlight and a pair of sturdy shoes by the bed. And when checking on others, text first, then call. — Jon Reed 

Liquor Stores Close And Shorten Hours

Liquor stores will remain closed until they get a clearance from a safety check to open. Wednesday morning’s earthquake caused bottles to break in several stores but no injuries were reported. Starting Thursday, all liquor stores in Utah will have shortened hours for the next two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. — Grace Osusky

Earthquake Causes Damage And Chemical Spill

The seismic event caused more than 8,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid to spill at a Kennecott facility near Salt Lake City. United Fire Authority Chief Dan Petersen said the cloud created by the spill dissipated and there was no more risk to residents. The Rio Grande Depot Museum closed after significant debris fell and there were visible cracks on the walls. But the Salt Lake City Airport opened following a six hour closure after a water line there burst. — Sonja Hutson


Navajo Nation Bans Travel

The president of the Navajo Nation issued an executive order banning travel to the Navajo Nation. The move, announced Wednesday, comes after two Navajo Nation residents tested positive for coronavirus Tuesday, after traveling. While the measure is not enforceable, President Jonathan Nez asked people to limit travel to the reservation. The Navajo Nation has closed all casinos and tribal parks on the reservation for three weeks. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding


Utah COVID-19 Update

As of Wednesday afternoon, Utah had 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — 53 residents and 10 visitors. So far, more than 1,200 people in the state have been tested. The Utah Public Health Laboratory, which analyzes coronavirus samples, closed Wednesday due to the Magna earthquake but officials say the lab will be reopened after a damage assessment is complete. — Grace Osusky

Coronavirus Small Business Relief

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Wednesday that Utahns can now apply for disaster loan assistance because of the coronavirus pandemic. Marla Trollan, who directs the agency’s office in Utah, said the turnaround time for applications is between 10 days and two weeks. But some business owners said that offering loans, rather than grants, may make it impossible for them to get back on their feet if and when they can reopen. Read the full story. — David Fuchs, St. George

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