While restrictions in Utah are starting to be rolled back as the state transitions from the red to the orange phase of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials are urging caution.
“Social distancing is still very important,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, during a press conference Monday. “It still requires people to be smart.”
When asked about state parks reopening, drawing crowds in some cases, Dunn said the hope is that people will still follow the six-foot distancing guideline as well as all other precautions.
Dunn said as a public health official, the biggest concern in the phased reopening of the state is the possibility of a resurgence of the disease. She said officials won’t understand the effects of the restrictions being lifted for several days, so it’s still important to be as safe as possible.
The number of people with unknown exposure of COVID-19, or community spread, is dropping and accounts for just 11 percent of the cases in the state, Dunn said.
Utah is rolling out targeted symptomatic testing for COVID-19, but that testing everyone in the state is still some time away, according to Dunn. She said asymptomatic testing is a key to controlling the COVID-19 crisis.
Locally, the Central Utah Public Health Department reported two more cases in the region — both in Sevier County — since last week. The total number in Sevier County is now seven, with 25 overall in the Six County region.
Of those cases, 18 are classified now as recovered, including five of the Sevier County cases. No deaths in the Six County region have been attributed to COVID-19 as of Monday.
Intermountain Health Care announced Monday morning that Utah’s first convalescent plasma transfusion patient — a treatment of COVID-19 as part of a new national treatment protocol led by clinicians at the Mayo Clinic —has been discharged from the hospital.
Cynthia Lemus and is now continuing her recovery at home with her family.
She was treated for severe complications from COVID-19, and was cheered on by a line of nurses, doctors and other caregivers as she left the facility.
Clinicians from Intermountain Healthcare and Lemus will talk about the national protocol, Lemus’ recovery, and the need for plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients.
State guidelines for the orange phase of recovery are as follows —
• General public and employers take extreme precautions.
• Wear face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
• Follow strict hygiene standards, including wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, frequent hand sanitizer use, avoid touching one’s face, covering coughs or sneezes, regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces and following all standards promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Utah Department of Health and local health departments.
• Do not shake hands.
• Limit in-person interactions in decreased group sizes that enable all social distancing guidelines to be maintained; keep social interactions in groups of 20 or fewer.
• Increase virtual interactions.
• Leave home infrequently; stay six feet away from others when outside the home.
• Regularly disinfect high-touch areas.
• Give sick family members their own room if possible and keep the door closed.
• Have only one family member care for the sick individual.
• Schools are to remain closed.
• Employees and volunteers of businesses operate remotely, unless not possible.