No takers for COVID-19 isolation spaces at Utah State

Utah State dormitory rooms set aside for local residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have remained empty since April as the spread of the coronavirus gradually slowed in the Bear River Health District.

LOGAN – Suppose you created a pandemic isolation space and nobody came?

That’s the enviable position in which local health and Utah State University officials are finding themselves. After teaming up to provide isolation spaces for individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus in early April, the USU dormitory rooms set aside for that purpose are still empty a month later.

That good news was first reported by USU Provost Frank Galey to members of the Logan City Council on April 5. USU spokesperson Emilie Wheeler confirmed that the isolation spaces were still empty as of May 12.

Logan council chair Amy Anderson nevertheless applauded the cooperative effort by local physicians, Bear River Health Department staffers and USU officials.

“It’s better to have isolation spaces available and not need them,” Amy Anderson said, “than the other way around.”

The motivation for creating the isolation space at Utah State, according to Logan-based surgeon Dr. Allan D. Anderson, was the realization that slowing the spread of the coronavirus depended not just on isolating individuals who tested positive from the community, but also separating them from their families.

The plan was to isolate only individuals at USU who tested positive for the coronavirus and were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. Dr. Anderson said vacant dormitory rooms were ideally suited for long-term isolation since they have separate bedrooms and baths, with a shared kitchen.

But the spread of COVID-19 may have already begun to slow locally through self-isolation and social distancing protocols even before the USU isolation spaces were available.

BRHD officials reported May 12 that the local caseload of coronavirus patient is now stable at 26 infected individuals currently, with no hospitalizations; cumulatively, there have been 59 cases in Cache County, 21 in Box Elder County and none so far in Rich County. State officials say that 66 percent of all COVID-19 patients in the Bear River Health District have already recovered.

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