Number of coronavirus cases in Summit County grows to four, but officials say there’s no evidence of community spread |

Number of coronavirus cases in Summit County grows to four, but officials say there’s no evidence of community spread

Courtesy of the CDC
Resources for information about the coronavirus

People concerned about whether they have COVID-19 are advised to call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707. 

Four cases of COVID-19 were announced in Summit County between Wednesday and Friday afternoon, the first known instances of the novel coronavirus appearing locally.

Health officials announced the first case, involving a county resident who recently traveled to Europe, Wednesday. The three other cases involved out-of-state visitors who did not travel to Summit County together.

All four patients are men younger than 60 and each displayed symptoms that were mild.

The Summit County Health Department was working to identify anyone who had contact with the patients. Officials planned to monitor those people for possible symptoms and to ensure they are staying away from others.

County health officials noted that all four cases were the result of travel and that, as of Friday afternoon, there was not known community spread of the virus. Community spread is when some people infected with the virus in an area are unsure how they contracted it.

The county resident who tested positive had close contact with someone with the coronavirus during a visit to Austria, according to officials. His case was considered a presumptive positive, and officials on Wednesday were awaiting further confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Richard Orlandi from University of Utah Health praised the man during a Wednesday press conference for following the recommended procedures for people who believe they may have the coronavirus. He limited contact with others, called his health care provider rather than visiting a clinic and was identified as being in need of testing through a telehealth appointment. University of Utah Health collected the test sample without requiring the man to enter a health facility.

“So much went right in this case,” Orlandi said.

Officials declined to provide specifics such as when the resident returned from his travels, the date he notified his health care provider or any public places he visited upon returning to Utah. He was recovering at home.

Keegan McCaffery, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said the man was identified within days of his return to Utah, and officials believe he was in close contact with fewer than five people before self-isolating.

Officials provided limited information regarding the out-of-state visitors and indicated the names of patients would not be released for privacy reasons.

On Thursday, Summit County issued a declaration of local emergency and a public health order following the announcement of the first two cases. Park City, meanwhile, declared a local emergency and postponed large and non-essential municipal events.

“While there is no need for the public to panic, we recognize the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and are beginning these emergency processes while the number of Summit County cases is low and before we have community spread,” said Tom Fisher, Summit County manager, in a press release. “These declarations are preparatory and not reactionary measures.”

Rich Bullough, director of the Summit County Health Department, urged residents to take the proper health precautions.

“The public should remain calm and continue practicing preventive health measures such as properly washing their hands, avoiding touching their faces, and staying home when experiencing cold or flu symptoms. Avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing.”

The action by the local governments came as communities across the U.S. and around Utah are bracing for, and grappling with, the effects of COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, there were more than 1,800 confirmed cases in the U.S., including at least 40 deaths, and seven known cases in the state.

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday announced a statewide restriction on gatherings of more than 100 people. Officials say efforts to slow the spread are aimed at ensuring the health care system does not become overwhelmed.

For information about symptoms of the coronavirus and how to protect yourself, click here.

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