A leading epidemiologist in Utah recently warned of another “complete shutdown” in the state if the average number of new daily coronavirus cases does not decrease.
In a memorandum to state and local health officials last Friday, Dr. Angela Dunn, a state epidemiologist, warned that Utahns are “rapidly reaching a point where the only viable option to control the spread and the deaths will be a complete closure, “if new daily COVID-19 cases do not reach 200 or less by July 1, according to a copy of the memorandum provided to the Salt Lake Tribune.
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By context, the state reported some 444 new cases on Monday, marking the 26th consecutive day with more than 200 recently reported cases, according to the newspaper.
Currently, with the exception of Salt Lake City, almost all of Utah is in the “yellow” and “green” reopening phases; Yellow means there is a low risk of infection, while green represents the “‘new normal” in the state. “Orange” and “red” represent moderate risk and high risk, respectively. Cases began to increase on May 27, or about 12 days after the state entered the yellow phase of reopening, according to the memo.
Utah may need to go back to “orange” if the state does not reduce its average number of new daily coronavirus cases for the next month.
“This could be our last chance to correct course,” says the memo. “Utahns care about these colors. They change their actions based on them. They are the key messaging tool for the public. “
Health officials in the memo also wrote that going back to orange “will send the message to Utah residents that this outbreak continues to be a serious problem and that state leadership is committed to saving lives and preventing a complete economic shutdown.”
If state officials don’t stop loosening the restrictions and demand the use of facial covers, “we must be clear to the public about why decisions are made that lower the restrictions,” they wrote, noting that it would be for economic, not health, reasons. . some.
“We have heard of the [Utah Hospital Association, University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare] that hospitals are going to exceed their ability to care for people within the next 4-8 weeks, “they added.
But responding to the note on Twitter, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said he currently “has no plans to shut down Utah’s economy” despite “sharing many of [Dunn’s] concerns. “
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“Dr. Dunn’s internal note raises alarm about the increase in COVID-19 cases in Utah. I appreciate your analysis and share many of your concerns. We will work to stem this tide, but I have no plans to shut down Utah’s economy.” says the tweet.
“I urge Utahns to protect themselves and their loved ones from the spread of the virus by following our common sense guidelines for social distancing, good hand hygiene, and especially the use of facial coatings. #StayStrongUtah “he added.
To date, the hive state has reported some 18,300 cases of the new virus and more than 160 deaths from COVID-19, according to official state estimates.