SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert issued a new order that will require travelers to fill out a declaration to assess whether they might be infected with COVID-19. It will go into effect Friday and be implemented for travelers flying or driving into the state.
Members of the state’s Coronavirus Task Force explained that the travel declaration will be voluntary. Gov. Herbert said it will be distributed at the Salt Lake Airport to travelers as they disembark. It will also be texted to the smart phones of motorists driving into the state along the major interstates and highways.
“This travel declaration will ask travelers if they have been tested for COVID-19, particularly in the last 14 days and what the test results are,” explained Gov. Herbert. “It will ask whether they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, or fever, and to detail where they have traveled before they came to Utah. This will allow us to help protect, stop and slow down the spread of the Coronavirus as we find people that come to our area that may be carrying the infection.”
The press conference occurred as the Utah Department of Health announced 1,846 cases within the state, an increase of 108 cases within the last day. Those cases have resulted in 158 hospitalizations and 13 deaths. They have now also received the test results of 36,116 people.
Gov. Herbert praised residents who are following his directive to Stay Safe, Stay Home. He encouraged everyone to limit travel to essential trips as much as possible.
“You are able to seek emergency services, obtain medications and medical services as you need. Essential travel means traveling to grocery stores and restaurants, which we recommend people do to help support our food industry that is struggling at this time. It also allows you to travel to your workplace if you can’t telework.”
For the second consecutive day, Utah has not recorded any new deaths from COVID-19. It is the eighth day, though, that more than 100 cases have been confirmed since the state started collecting and publishing its data. The average of positive cases compared to completed tests still remains at 5 percent.
Although Wednesday’s new cases were higher than normal, Gov. Herbert said he is pleased with the trends that he is seeing. He explained how he had a conference call with White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier, who was pleased with Utah’s directive.
“We were early in closing our schools compared to many other states. We closed in-house dining very early compared to other states and took this very seriously. We had universities implement distance learning and close campuses for all intents and purposes. So (Dr. Fauci) liked the fact that we did not hesitate. We took very direct, decisive action early on and we are seeing the benefits of that action now in some of the numbers being reported.”
Gov. Herbert expressed hope that every person takes the mindset that they are part of the solution and not part of the problem. He repeated that financial help is coming.
Later, Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the state’s directives are working but since the virus is novel, it is hard to predict what will happen next. She explained that it is possible it will be seasonal or come and go in waves.
“I think it is essential right now that we focus on the current increase of cases and really work hard to decrease that,” explained Dunn. “We can do that by getting tested if you have symptoms, isolating in quarantine if you have tested positive or have close contact with someone, and of course social distancing is going to be key to limiting the spread.”
Wednesday’s press conference was held as the Bear River Health Department released the number of cases in Northern Utah grew to 41. There are now 28 positive tests in Cache County and 13 in Box Elder County. There are still no cases in Rich County.