The Central Utah Board of Health discussed options for the region to move from the orange to yellow phase of the governor’s phase reopening of the state during a meeting May 5.
Gov. Gary Herbert’s order moving Utah from red to orange follows plans set out by the White House to reopen the country. Herbert issued the executive order putting the state in the moderate risk category April 29, which took effect May 1. That order is due to expire this week, which has county commissioners, city councils and local public health officials wondering what the next step will be.
During Central Utah Board of Health meeting, the consensus was to follow the state’s lead — at least for now.
“The state order allows any county or city to apply to change to the next phase before the state,” said Nate Selin, public health officer for the Central Utah Public Health Department. “Regardless of where we move, we will see more cases.”
He said for right now, the CUPHD is looking at the situation in the region as a whole and waiting for the governor’s order to expire. If Gov. Herbert issues a new order placing the state in the yellow category, which means easing of more restrictions, then the CUPHD’s region would follow suite.
The governor’s latest order is due to expire Friday, May 15.
However, if the governor decides to keep Utah in the orange category, some municipalities and counties may re-evaluate where they are and apply to move ahead in the recovery phase, Seline said. However, a growth in COVID-19 infections could also set a county back a phase.
“Our local businesses and communities have responded well,” Seline said. Other than the state-mandated closure of dining rooms, businesses have used their own discretion in the CUPHD’s region. Some have closed, while others have opted to remain open with precautions.
The result is that instead of issuing public health orders to keep the spread of COVID-19 to minimum, most have taken the threat seriously and adjusted on their own, Selin said.
“We’ve given guidance, but let them make the decisions,” Selin said. “It shows we’ve done a good job locally.”
COVID-19 numbers have continued to grow since the first case in the CUPHD’s region was announced March 31. The CUPHD’s region was the last one in the state to have a confirmed cast. In the seven weeks since that first case, the number of confirmed infections has reached 28, with the latest being in Piute County.
CUPHD confirmed May 7 the first positive case of COVID-19 in Piute County.
Wayne County remains the only county in the region to not have a confirmed cast of COVID-19.
The individual in Piute County is between the ages of 45-64 and is recovering at home. The individual contracted the virus from an exposure to another confirmed case from outside of the Central Utah Health District.
“COVID-19 is still active in our communities, with several new cases confirmed in the past week in our Health District,” Selin said. “Although we haven’t seen case counts as high as other areas in the state or country, we encourage individuals to continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Close contacts of this confirmed case are being contacted and will be advised to self-quarantine, and CUPHD staff will actively monitor these individuals for symptoms and refer those who become symptomatic to a testing location.
CUPHD continues to encourage testing for all individuals who are symptomatic for COVID-19. These symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches and pain, sore throat, chills, and loss of sense aof smell or taste.
Anyone with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 is encouraged to contact a health professional and get a referral to a testing site or call one of the COVID-19 hotlines at (800) 456-7707 or (844) 442-5224 to be referred for testing.