The coronavirus threat to Utahns is low, according to Governor Gary Herbert, however state leaders continue to prepare for a possible outbreak.
The Governor announced the formation of a task force to mitigate the potential effects of the virus in Utah.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox will lead the task force comprised of public health, business, community, civic and education leaders.
“We’re hoping for the best,” said Herbert, “but we’re preparing for the worst.”
“Our concern is what the future is going to be with the spread of this virus,” he said. “It’s not a matter of containment as we see it spreading, it’s a matter of what we can do to mitigate the spread and minimize the infection that we have in our communities.”
The lieutenant governor emphasized, “This is not a time to panic. We are looking at minimal disruption while still ensuring the protection and the safety of the citizens of the state of Utah.”
Cox is encouraging all Utahns – families, churches, schools and business owners- to have a plan in place in the event of a virus outbreak in Utah.
The plan should include a course of action for a 14 day quarantine scenario.
Unlike an earthquake or other natural disaster where communities can depend on the federal government, Cox said residents need to rely on friends, neighbors and community members to care for and help each other.
State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn said health department staff are actively screening individuals who are at risk.
So far, 17 Utahns have been tested for Covid-19. Fifteen test results were negative, and two are still pending. The health department is actively monitoring 65 individuals who were deemed to be at risk for potentially contracting the virus. Dunn said all were travelers from mainland China returning to Utah.
Dunn said we can expect community spread of the virus in Utah and while the majority of illness is mild, those at the highest risk include, children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
In the event you feel sick, Dunn recommends you “call your provider before going in so that they can be prepared to receive you and ensure no spread of the disease.”
Governor Herbert asked residents to be prepared, but not hoard. He has received reports of store shelves being emptied of items such as toilet paper and water. He said stocking up on water is an overreaction, because our water supply is not in any danger.
State leaders have launched a website — coronavirus.utah.gov – to keep the public informed and debunk bad information about the virus.