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Utah's governor declares a state of emergency because of novel coronavirus

Posted at 4:30 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 08:04:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Governor Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency in advance of novel coronavirus emerging here.

There were no confirmed cases at the time the announcement was made. The governor issued the state of emergency to ensure resources were available.

However, just hours later, officials announced the first known case of COVID-19 in the state.

"Our number one focus is preparing for the arrival of novel coronavirus. Issuing this declaration now allows us to take additional proactive steps that will make a big difference in how effectively we can respond once we start seeing COVID-19 diagnoses in Utah," the governor said in a statement Friday.

The governor's COVID-19 task force made the recommendation Friday morning. Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, who heads the task force, noted that neighboring states are seeing it there.

The task force is also working to address testing, vulnerable populations and expanding telehealth services. The governor has urged people to wash their hands, stay home if sick and avoid spreading germs.

The Utah State Legislature has already set aside about $16 million for coronavirus response efforts.