Editor's note: One day after this article was published, Davis County updated its public health order, telling all residents to stay home, except to complete essential tasks, and closing more businesses where close human contact occurs or groups gather. READ MORE:
DAVIS COUNTY — Davis County now has 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four cases that are suspected, for a total of 84 cases.
Seven of these cases, just under 10%, have been hospitalized, according to Brian Hatch, health director for the Davis County Health Department, who explained the county’s current COVID-19 data to the department’s board of health during an emergency virtual meeting Tuesday morning.
The meeting was held so the board could determine if any additional restrictions should to be added to its existing public health order, such as the expansion of the definition of nonessential businesses to include hair salons and tattoo parlors or a requirement for county residents “shelter in place.”
Ultimately, the board decided against any additional restrictions based on the county’s current data, but members plan to watch the data closely and consider more restrictions if there are significant changes.
However, several members expressed a willingness to move to more “aggressive” restrictions now as a precautionary measure. Hatch advised them that the data didn’t merit those measures yet, but it may in the future.
“I want our public to step up, and I have confidence that our public can,” Hatch said. “And the data is suggesting that (existing measures) are working, so I’m willing to take a step approach to this.”
Previous modeling predicted that, by April 1, Utah would see 400 new cases of COVID-19 per day. Currently, the state is seeing 100 cases per day, Hatch said.
“That moves our decision point down a little bit further. It gives us time to watch to see if the measures in place are being effective,” Hatch said.
Davis County’s rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 is 22.75, Hatch said. This indicates that the county is doing relatively well despite having the third highest number of cases in the state behind Salt Lake and Summit counties, which report 360 and 167 cases, respectively, according to coronavirus.utah.gov as of Tuesday.
“I don’t have the exact (rates) in other jurisdictions right now, but we are faring very well compared to some other counties,” Hatch said. “I know Summit County and Wasatch County are being hit very hard.”
Summit County’s rate is over 300 cases per 100,000, which puts it in the top five counties in the United States, Hatch said. Wasatch County’s rate is over 100 cases per 100,000, putting it in the top 50 in the United States, he said.
Of the 80 confirmed cases in Davis County, four cases are under the age of 18, 27 are between the ages of 18-34, 20 are between the ages of 35-49, 20 are between the ages of 50-64 and 9 are over the age of 65, according to information presented by Hatch.
Hatch said he is hopeful that the low number of cases in residents under 18 is an indication that school closures are limiting the spread of COVID-19 in that group.
The number of cases over the age of 65 is also quite low, he said.
“I’m hopeful ... that (those over 65) have heard the message, and they’re heeding the message and protecting themselves, and it looks like the data is suggesting that,” Hatch said.
“Where I am a little concerned is the middle group, the 18-64,” he continued. “I think this is where we’re going to spend our work and our effort.”
Hatch said he suspects that these higher numbers in the middle are driven by participation in the workforce. Travel-related cases have also been common among these age groups, he said.
However, he expressed concern that the spread among these adults in the middle could impact younger and older populations, as adults who are exposed at work or elsewhere come home and interact with older and younger family members.
The origin of the highest share of cases in Davis County, 29.6%, is exposure to a known case of COVID-19, according to the department’s data. The next most common source is travel, which accounted for another 29.6% of cases.
However, trailing close behind travel cases are “community acquired” cases, which make up 25.9% of the total. For cases in this category, the source of spread can’t be identified, Hatch said.
“Community acquired is what we’re most concerned with because then (COVID-19 is) just rapidly spreading throughout the community indiscriminately, and we don’t know who has it,” Hatch said.
The source of about 10% of cases is under investigation, he said.
Because the number of cases in the county has grown, the health department is able to share more information with cities about cases in its boundaries than it was able to when numbers were smaller, due to health privacy laws, Hatch said.
Cities are eager for this information, board members reported, as is the general public.
“Social media is great, but social media with COVID-19 is not great,” said Randy Lewis, mayor of Bountiful, referring to false information that is circulating online. “I would just like to encourage that we give the public as much of this information as is necessary because they’re starving for this information, and they’re looking for the correct information.”
Lewis praised the county’s new data dashboard, which recently has been made available at daviscountyutah.gov/health/covid-19/dashboard. The dashboard includes graphs depicting current COVID-19 cases broken down by age, the number of tests conducted and their results, the increases in cases over time and the sources of exposure for identified cases.