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PM News Brief: Wasatch Front Air, Six COVID Deaths & Antibody Testing

Photo of downtown Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers / KUER
Air quality along the Wasatch Front is usually good around this time of year, but early data shows it has been cleaner than usual so far this spring.

Tuesday evening, May 5, 2020

STATE

At-Home Ramadan Observance

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims come together to pray and reflect as a community. But the coronavirus outbreak has forced Muslims in Utah to adjust how they observe the holiday. The Utah Islamic Center canceled its in-person services, so instead of gathering in large groups to break their fasts and pray, families are spending time together at home. One person said the quieter observance has helped her focus on the meaning of Ramadan. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Six New COVID-19 Deaths

Six more people in Utah — three men and three women — have died from COVID-19. That’s according to data released Tuesday by the department of health. All six had underlying health conditions. It’s the most deaths in a single day since the first one was reported in late March. The state has now seen more than 5,400 confirmed cases of the virus. And over 126,000 people have been tested. The department also announced close to 2,400 people have recovered. — Ross Terrell

Antibody Testing Increases

Intermountain Healthcare has started conducting antibody blood tests for COVID-19 on select patients and caregivers. The tests will help identify previous infections in individuals who have been exposed to the virus or who have been sick with COVID-19-like symptoms but were not diagnosed with the disease. The testing is in conjunction with ARUP Laboratories through the University of Utah. On a call, researchers said the test does not show if someone is immune. The results could help experts learn more about how the virus circulates and what proportion of Utah’s population has already been infected. — Caroline Ballard

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

Wasatch Air Cleaner Than Usual

Air quality along the Wasatch Front is usually good around this time of year. But early data shows it has been cleaner than usual so far this spring. A release from the University of Utah and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality said as people stayed home more due to the coronavirus pandemic, researchers measured reduced emissions during the second half of March. Oxides of Nitrogen, Particulate Matter, and Carbon dioxide were all significantly lower than average. The data is not peer reviewed yet, and scientists will analyze the month’s weather conditions to understand the data better. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

Southwest Utah Wants Fewer Social Restrictions

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — the largest single-day increase in the region since the start of the pandemic. The jump comes as local leaders are asking Gov. Gary Herbert to further relax social restrictions. The regional public health department is supporting the move on the grounds that only three of the health district’s 428 hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.— David Fuchs, St. George
 

REGION/NATION

San Miguel Antibody Test Results

A county in Colorado offered COVID-19 antibody tests to all residents who wanted one. Most of the county opted in. Now, the last of those results are back, showing that —  at most —  only 2% tested positive. Antibody test results can be difficult to interpret, with the possibility for false positives and false negatives. And it’s still unclear whether antibodies against COVID-19 mean immunity against COVID-19, and if so, for how long. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West New Bureau

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