App will help trace COVID-19 infections
By Robert Stevens
Sanpete County and the rest of Utah appear to be slowly moving towards some return to normalcy when it comes to the new coronavirus crisis.
Utah’s public health officials are considering a careful reopening of businesses. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said on Monday that Utah’s COVID-19 transmission rate is slowing and the number of cases is plateauing.
The Central Utah Health District (CUPHD) continues to report COVID-19 numbers that pale in comparison to the rest of the state, despite a small increase in local positive cases.
In the CUPHD, which is comprised of Sanpete, Sevier, Juab, Millard, Piute and Wayne counties, the number of confirmed cases has hit 22. Nearly 1200 people in the district have now been tested.
“These are very encouraging numbers,” Dunn said, “and in order to keep driving our transmission rate lower, especially as we reopen parts of our economy, we’re working on expanding our contact tracing as well.”
According to district numbers, 10 out of the 22 cases were individuals between 25-44 years old, with the next highest age bracket being 65-84.
Out of all the counties in the district, Juab has had the most with seven, but Sanpete, Millard and Sevier are all tied at five cases each right now. Millard had one case that experienced hospitalization, but has now recovered.
Local recoveries are happening too. Juab County has two recovered cases, Millard and Sanpete each have three, and Sevier County has two recovered cases.
The Central Valley Medical Center in Nephi has announced it will resume elective surgical procedures in a measured and cautious way, according to Nick Stewart, marketing director.
The hospital will continue to offer safe, routine care during the public health pandemic with COVID-19, Stewart stated in a new release. There are protocols in place to care for these patients while ensuring the safety of hospital staff, visitors and the community.
The Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD) released an announcement on Tuesday that the three original cases from Sanpete County (which were Gunnison Valley cases) had been classified as recovered and released from quarantine.
The announcement came on the heels of a large amount of social media reports alleging that some of the COVID-19 individuals had been traveling around the community, despite being under quarantine orders.
The GVPD helped the Messenger squash some of the rumors about the incident, and confirmed that a family member of a COVID-19 person had gone to a Maverick store. The GVPD responded to a call about the issue, and spoke with the individual.
The individual was, in fact, not one of the positive COVID-19 cases, but was a family member living with them. The CUPHD guidelines say that non-symptomatic family members who are living with the confirmed COVID-19 cases must not be mingling with the public. According to the GVPD, the family now has a better understanding of how to adhere to the CDC guidelines, but with the recent release from quarantine status by the CUPHD, that will no longer be required.
Mike Grimlie, public information officer for the CUPHD had this to say about the situation.
“When a case of COVID-19 is confirmed, that individual is required by state law to be isolated until recovered from the virus,” he said. “Any non-symptomatic household contacts are required to quarantine, and CUPHD monitors them daily for symptoms. If it is reported to CUPHD that an individual breaks an isolation or quarantine order, CUPHD will investigate the report, and if it is determined that the order has been broken, the individual can be cited by law enforcement and charged according to Utah statute.”
In addition, CUPHD will contact any individuals that may have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and advise on actions that need to be taken for exposed individuals.
Gov. Gary Herbert is reported to be considering a slow rollout of a plan to re-open the state economy.
“I think that’s the right way to do it, to do this slow rollout … while monitoring for disease, so if we see an increase in cases we increase restrictions again,” Dunn said.
The state and the CDC, still warn against nonessential travel, Dunn said.
“Nationally, we’re still in the acceleration phase of this outbreak … so it’s definitely not controlled, so we won’t open up those domestic travel restrictions until we start to see more of a plateau nationally,” she said.
Here in Sanpete, some local businesses, such as popular Spring City German eatery, Das Café, have plans to start returning to normal, bit by bit.
As of Saturday, Das Café will reopen their dine-in eating, but restrict groups to six people or less. Seating will be limited, and hours for dine-in will be 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.