The number of coronavirus cases in Utah continues its steady trajectory upward, as in the rest of the country.
That will likely be the trend at least in the near term.
“We have seen an increase in cases, we do expect this to continue. We’re in an accelerated phase of the outbreak,” said Isa Perry, public information officer for the Davis County Health Department. Her counterparts in the Weber-Morgan and Utah County health departments echoed that.
There were eight coronavirus cases in Weber and Morgan counties, up from four on March 18.
In Davis County, the case count jumped to 29, up nearly five times from six on March 18.
Utah County, larger than Weber and Davis counties, had 11 cases as of Monday.
Statewide, there were 257 cases, factoring the 13 visitors to the state who contracted the illness.
Davis County had the third-largest number of cases among Utah’s 29 counties, behind Salt Lake County, with 109 coronavirus cases, and Summit County, with 65. The sole coronavirus death so far in Utah, on Sunday, occurred in Davis County.
“I think a lot of travel is involved. We have a very mobile, traveling community,” said Perry, referencing how many in Davis county contracted coronavirus in the first place. The concentration of Davis County cases seems to be in the southern part of the county, closer to Salt Lake County, Perry said, though she’s not sure why that is.
That said, Lori Buttars, spokeswoman for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, suspects community spread is also increasingly behind the growth in case numbers. Officials work hard to backtrace the movements of those infected, but in some cases they can’t link their cases to others that were already known.
“At this time, we have no indication of widespread community transmission in our health district, but with increased testing and increased cases, it is safe to assume that it is likely occurring,” Buttars said. Community transmission or community spread is infection by means that aren’t totally clear, unlike travel-related infection, by visiting an area known to have a higher concentration of cases.
As such, all the officials emphasized the import of continuing to adhere to health officials’ recommendations to steer clear of groups of more than 10, to maintain a safe distance from those you do encounter and to hold off on discretionary travel. Such measures, they argue, will put a check on how high the case count gets, keep it from getting even higher.
Of Weber County’s eight cases, five involve people aged between 18 and 60 while the other three involve people 60 or older. Buttars described all of them as being in “stable” condition but wouldn’t provide additional details due to privacy concerns. Weber State University officials said Saturday that a student from the school had contracted coronavirus, apparently through a non-student friend, and WSU spokesman Allison Hess said Monday that the individual was now “self-isolating in Davis County.”
As of Monday morning, Aislynn Tolman-Hill, public information officer for the Utah County Health Department, said all the cases in Utah County involved people over the age of 18, with some due to travel, some due to community spread. “We certainly expect the numbers to go up in the coming days and weeks,” she said.
The Weber-Morgan and Davis County health departments issued public health orders on March 18 prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people and dine-in eating at restaurants, among other measures. The Utah County Health Department on Monday issued a revised public health order recommending adherence to a White House recommendation to avoid groups of more than 10 and also prohibiting dine-in restaurant offerings.
The orders from the three entities last through April 1. Whether they get extended has yet to be determined. “We will all be working together as we evaluate the situation moving forward,” Buttars said.
The new coronavirus case count in Utah totaled 68 on Sunday, the most cases found on a single day since Feb. 28, when Utah Department of Health tracking began. On March 19, 35 new cases were discovered in the state, the second-highest single-day total. In all, 5,048 people had been tested for coronavirus in the state, according to health department figures.