OGDEN — A Weber County resident died of COVID-19 Sunday, the Weber-Morgan Health Department announced Tuesday afternoon. This is the first COVID-19 death in Weber County and the fifth in Utah.
The individual — an older adult woman under the age of 60 — was a previously recorded case in a long-term care facility, according to a department press release. After she tested positive for COVID-19 last week, her case was reported to public health officials.
The woman “had underlying medical conditions that put (her) at high risk for severe disease and complication from COVID-19,” the release says. “She was previously receiving hospice services for some time.”
The department is working with those who were in close contact with the patient, but there are currently no new COVID-19 cases connected to her, the release says.
Anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who has had contact with the woman will be tested, said Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, at a press briefing Monday afternoon.
The woman had a roommate who was removed from the shared space when the woman tested positive for COVID-19, Dunn said. The roommate has since tested negative.
“We want the family and the staff and residents at the care facility to know our heartfelt condolences,” says Brian Bennion, executive director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department, in the Weber-Morgan release. “We appreciate the prompt actions of the care facility to recognize and prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. They immediately implemented prevention measures to protect the other residents and their staff.”
Soon after the woman’s symptoms developed, facility staff placed her in isolation and administered a COVID-19 test, the release says.
The facility also identified the woman’s close contacts, including other residents and staff, and notified them of their possible exposure so they could begin self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, according to the release.
“That long-term care facility was able to take all of the appropriate precautions to prevent spread,” Dunn said, “and no one else in that facility has tested positive for COVID-19 yet.”
The Utah Department of Health’s recommendations for assisted living facilities advise that these facilities monitor the close contact of residents, provide training for staff, implement social distancing and other prevention measures, and plan for additional testing and response measures in the event of an outbreak.
Facilities are also asked to notify any hospice workers and facility staff who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 case, as was done at the facility where this death occurred.
Up to this point, there have been fewer than three cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities, Dunn said.
“Our facilities are doing an excellent job in terms of screening visitors and the health care workers and not allowing sick people in there that could possibly spread (COVID-19) into that vulnerable population,” Dunn said.
Dunn also announced Tuesday that the Central Utah Health District has identified its first case of COVID-19, so the illness now has a presence in all 13 of the state’s health districts.
The Central Utah district covers Juab, Sanpete, Millard, Sevier, Piute and Wayne counties, according to the Utah Association of Local Health Departments. The district’s COVID-19 case is a man over the age of 60, who is recovering at home, Dunn said.
To date, Utah has tested 18,519 Utahns for COVID-19, with 2,510 people tested Monday, Dunn reported. The state’s current guidelines are to test anyone showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or those who have had close contact or exposure to a known COVID-19 case, Dunn said.
“We have seen a jump in the number of people getting tested,” Dunn said. “Yesterday was our highest increase in the number of people being tested in Utah.”
Despite the increase in testing, the state’s rate of positive tests is holding steady, at about 5%, Dunn said.
“We continue to see promising numbers that give us hope that social distancing is working and give us evidence that it is working,” Dunn said.
However, the state needs data over the next one to two weeks to assess the continued effectiveness of current measures, she said, due to the incubation period of COVID-19.
“Our system is working,” Dunn said, “and we just need to continue those efforts moving forward to continue to see the decrease in the rate of cases.”