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PM News Brief: Elective Surgery Ban, Counties Reopening & Bar Exam Regulations

Photo illustration of a surgery
J PANA via flickr
The Utah Department of Health has lifted restrictions on some elective surgeries.


Wednesday evening, April 22, 2020


Utah Launches “Healthy Together” App

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert unveiled a new app Wednesday to help the state track the spread of COVID-19. It’s called Healthy Together. People can download it and then fill out a questionnaire about their symptoms and if they’ve been in contact with anyone who had COVID-19. The big thing about this is you can also share your contacts and location with the health department. If you do test positive, that allows the Utah Department of Health to complete contact tracing. But it’s all voluntary. Read the full story. — Ross Terrell

Elective Surgery Ban Lifted

Utah Department of Health Executive Director Joseph Miner has lifted restrictions on some elective surgeries. Miner pointed to sufficient supplies of protective equipment and a slowing in hospitalization rates for COVID-19 as reasons to rescind the initial ban. He also said that since the order was put in place March 23, some patients’ concerns have become more urgent. But providers, patients, and those accompanying patients will all be required to wear masks. Patients will also be screened for COVID-19 before procedures and things like toys and magazines will be removed from waiting rooms. — Caroline Ballard

Bar Exam Regulations Relaxed

The Utah Supreme Court issued an order this week that will let some State Bar applicants practice law without taking the Bar Exam. This is a temporary measure while health regulations forbid people from gathering in person to take the Bar Exam this July. Applicants must have graduated from a law school with a high bar passage rate or are currently licensed in good standing in another state or jurisdiction. They must also agree to perform 360 hours of legal practice under the supervision of an attorney. — Caroline Ballard

COVID-19 Update

Utah has now seen more than 3,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than half of them in Salt Lake County. The county also announced that 14 inmates at its jail have tested positive for the virus since March 31 and another 54 are under medical quarantine. More than 76,000 Utahns have been tested. But health officials announced two more deaths Wednesday bringing the state’s total to 34. Both patients were over the age of 85. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.


Three Counties Unveil Plan To Reopen

Weber, Davis and Morgan counties unveiled a plan Wednesday to have a soft opening of businesses starting May 1. Elected officials from all three counties said they would like to see places like restaurants, gyms and retail stores open again. Businesses would still have to practice social distancing, and people would be urged to wear face masks. Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert announced a soft reopening of many businesses in Utah starting next month. County officials will release more information next week after Herbert releases guidelines on what can reopen. — Jessica Lowell

Utah Valley Chamber Releases “Safe to Work” Guide

The Utah Valley Chamber released extensive guidelines for safely reopening portions of the state’s economy. The “Safe to Work” document is meant to be used with the governor’s Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan. It covers reopening workplaces like offices, manufacturing, bars and restaurants. Some recommendations include requiring employees to take their temperatures each day before entering the building, staggering when employees work on-site, and having cleaning breaks every two hours. — Caroline Ballard


Tracing Navajo Cases

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Juan County more than tripled in the past week, from 11 to 34, and most are on the Navajo Nation. The spike in cases is the result of mobile coronavirus testing performed on the reservation last week. Now, health care providers are working to support people who have tested positive. Read the full story here.— Kate Groetzinger, Bluff


Immunocompromised Safety

One listener wondered how he and his family can protect themselves once states begin relaxing stay at home orders, especially considering his wife may be immunocompromised. The Wyoming Department of Health said families with individuals who are more vulnerable to the virus should continue to play it safe and follow CDC guidelines. If a family member is called back into work, they should make sure to wash their hands regularly and maintain social distancing. Department officials also recommend that every family member consider wearing a mask at home if their exposure risk to coronavirus is high. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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