Central Utah COVID-19 cases spike
By Robert Stevens
Sanpete and Sevier County are leaving the rest of the Central Utah Public Health District in the dust when it comes to COVID-19 cases, and not in a good way.
Between June 10-16, the two counties spiked 26 news cases—11 in Sanpete and 15 in Sevier. According to CUPHD reports, every last one of the new district cases were confirmed through contact tracing spread within the district through contact with a positive COVID-19 carrier.
Sanpete now has a total of 27 confirmed cases, 17 of which are active. Sevier has a total of 29 confirmed cases, 19 of which are active and one of which is hospitalized.
The Messenger has received multiple reports from sources with first-hand knowledge that some of those cases are reported to have come from employee’s at the Norbest turkey plant, which is owned by California based poultry giant Pitman Farms. The sources claim at least 2-3 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed with staff at the Moroni turkey plant, but the Messenger was unable to get a comment from the company before going to press.
Although Sanpete and Sevier do have higher populations than the other counties in CUPHD, the recent COVID numbers are still a stark contrast to the next highest county within the CUPHD, Juab County, who currently has 11 total confirmed cases, but only one case is active, with the other 10 all having recovered. In Millard County, six of their eight total cases have recovered. Both of Piute County’s two confirmed cases have recovered. Wayne County still has zero confirmed cases.
This means Sanpete has 43.6 percent of all the active cases in the entire health district, and Sevier has 48.7 percent. By contrast, Millard holds 5.1 percent and Juab claims 2.6 percent.
Pam Lindquist, a family service worker for Head Start and Centro de la Familia, says she thinks the increase in cases in the area is possibly due in part to an increased desire to be tested by community members after being concerned about the dramatic COVID-19 spikes happening across Utah and the rest of the county after public health restrictions were loosened.
On Friday, Lindquist was part of the Utah Department of Health team that came to Ephraim to perform free testing for anyone who wanted it. The event was held in a drive up style, and people had their nose swabbed, and then were required to mail the swab into a lab, which would return their results via email or postal mail.
Lindquist said the team tested 116 people in all.
“I was really surprised how many people from the community came out to get tested,” she said. “More people want to know, and it helped that it was free and didn’t require any symptoms to be showing.”
She said getting tested at a local hospital still costs money if you don’t have insurance, and requires the person getting tested to show at least one major symptom.