clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah numbers keep rising with 2 dozen more COVID-19 cases

Weber State track athlete diagnosed with the illness

A person gets tested for COVID-19 outside of University of Utah Health’s Farmington Health Care Center in Farmington last week.
A person gets tested for COVID-19 outside of University of Utah Health’s Farmington Health Care Center in Farmington last week.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah now has 136 confirmed cases of COVID-19, officials reported Saturday, including 14 new cases in Salt Lake County, all but one a resident of the state.

Among the new cases are a member of the track team at Weber State University and a Davis County man who recently took a ski trip to Colorado.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a “weekend of prayer and service” after the state “experienced many challenges this week, including the spread of coronavirus in our communities and a 5.7 magnitude earthquake.”

“We will get through these hard times,” he said. “Whether or not you are religious, I encourage you to find peace or guidance in one way or more this weekend. May God bless the great state of Utah, and all her people.”

The governor’s declaration acknowledges the hardships, but asks Utahns to serve their neighbors in a way that “will not increase the risk of contagion.” It also says that the state is “living in a ‘hugless’ and ‘touchless’ environment right now and needs to remember our kind words count even more ...

“The coming days and weeks will become part of our history, and we must, and will face these trials together,” the declaration, which encourages acts of service through Sunday, states.

Since Friday, Davis County confirmed two new cases; Summit County saw four more; Utah County has one more; and Wasatch County added three new cases. More than 2,500 people in the Beehive State have been tested for the virus, according to the Utah Department of Health. The state saw a 24-case rise since Friday.

Weber State University reported in a news release that the student-athlete who tested positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus after contact with a nonstudent friend after classes had been canceled. The student’s coaches and team members have been asked to social-distance and monitor themselves for symptoms.

Matt Newey, who became one of the new confirmed patients in Davis County, spoke to the Deseret News about his experience with the virus. Newey said if it weren’t for a routine doctor’s appointment, he might not have known he’d contracted COVID-19.

The 23-year-old had just returned from a Colorado ski trip with four friends, and he thought the fatigue he felt was just the aftermath of playing hard and staying up late.

“I went in for a regular doctor’s appointment,” he said of the visit that had nothing to do with the body aches he’d begun experiencing. “We started talking about the virus, and I told him I’d just come back from Colorado. I had body aches and fatigue, but I thought it was from my ski trip. I said, ‘My whole body is really sore from using all those muscles.’ I didn’t suspect coronavirus.”

His doctor checked his temperature, and he had a slight fever. He tested him for the flu, but about 10 minutes later, that was negative.

“My doctor swabbed me for COVID-19, and after that, he said he’d call me in 24 to 48 hours,” Newey said. “He got back to me (Wednesday) to let me know I’d tested positive. I was completely blown away.”

Newey, a freelance photographer who lives with his parents, both in their 60s, said his first thoughts were of the people he may have exposed.

“I’m not scared for myself,” he said. “My symptoms have gotten worse, but I’m just more scared about my parents.”

Newey has exercise-induced asthma, and he said that feeling he gets during an asthma attack of “trying to breath through a straw” is the best way he can describe how he feels.

“It feels very similar to an asthma attack,” he said. “Or when you go running in the cold, and it feels dry and sore, you feel winded and can’t catch your breath. I feel light-headed because I’m not getting enough oxygen. ...It’s not serious, but it is kind of alarming to feel that tightness.”

He also worries about his friends, who all had more resistance to getting tested than he ran into. All four have now been tested, but only one has received results.

“He got the news about 10 minutes ago,” Newey said Friday night. “He tested positive.”

The experience he and his friends have had has made him realize the value of following the directives of the state health department in maintaining social distance, and of staying home and away from public places for the next few weeks.

He said he believes the numbers of those infected are much higher than the tests can track because so many people have minor or no symptoms.

“A lot of my peers are not taking it seriously,” he said. “We can easily spread it because we’re not having serious symptoms. We’ve got to do our part too.”

In addition to the declaration of prayer and service, Herbert also clarified instructions for mass gatherings over 10 people, saying “implementing rigorous social distancing measures is crucial to preventing the spread of novel coronavirus but we don’t want Utahns to feel like we are threatening them with criminal prosecution.”

Statewide, public health orders prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people. The rules are in place to limit the number of COVID-19 cases in Utah.

A breakdown of Utah cases by health district:

  • Salt Lake County, 57 residents, 3 nonresidents
  • Summit County, 32 residents, 7 nonresidents
  • Davis County, 14 residents
  • Weber-Morgan, 6 residents
  • Utah County, 3 residents, 1 nonresident
  • Southwest Utah, 1 resident
  • Wasatch County, 7 residents
  • Tooele County, 2 residents
  • Bear River Health Department, 3 residents

Contributing: Wendy Leonard

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Salt Lake County’s resident positive count as 44. The new number released Saturday is 57.