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Utah unveils plan, task force in case of COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 9:59 PM, Mar 02, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert met with leaders across Utah on Monday to announce the creation of a Utah coronavirus task force.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox will lead the team.

“The risk right now is low, but that’s the current situation,” Governor Herbert said. “Just had a conversation earlier with Vice President Mike Pence… we don’t want anything necessarily to be an overreaction, but we want it to be in fact accurate. We don’t want anyone to be complacent about it either. This is a serious issue!”

State leaders warned that one of the things that makes Utah so great – community – will be a strength and could also be a weakness as the task force prepares for the potential of a coronavirus outbreak.

“We are really fortunate to have a culture of collaboration in Utah,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn. “We can definitely expect community spread of COVID-19 in Utah. That is happening in other states surrounding us, and that’s what we are preparing for.”

Dunn said the state is preparing to shut down mass gatherings, such as church on the weekends or school on the weekdays if the need arises.

So far, 17 Utahns have been tested for COVID-19.

Out of those 17 tests, 15 came back negative. The other two cases are still pending because they are so new.

Many of the Utahns who have been tested showed either extreme symptoms or exposure. Many of the 17 patients came from China.

The task force is preaching common-sense health advice and recommending people only share information from trusted news sources.

“Purell doesn’t do enough! Use soap and water, and sing happy birthday to yourself at least two or three times before you stop!” Governor Herbert said. “It’ll put a smile on your face and your hands will be cleaner!”

Governor Herbert said there is no need to stockpile items like water, because there is no concern that the water supply would be affected in any way.

The state has launched a new website to help Utahns track the spread of COVID-19: coronavirus.utah.gov

The task force also plans to create new social media accounts within the next few days.