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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Summit County Health Department Prepared For Coronavirus

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So far, no cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have reached Utah, although some Utahns have contracted the virus while abroad.

While the COVID-19 coronavirus has just a two-percent mortality rate, according to the Utah Department of Health, it is also spread more easily than other iterations of the virus such as the more fatal 2003 SARS coronavirus.

The developments in the recent international pandemic has Wasatch Back health departments on alert. The area is of course a destination for travelers from across the globe, and many residents of Summit and Wasatch counties also travel internationally themselves.

Summit County Health Nursing Director Carolyn Rose says the United States Center for Disease Control and prevention has good protocols in place for preventing the spread of disease in the U.S.

“They test people or screen people when they're coming in on flights through the 11 airports that have those screenings from certain countries,” Rose explained. “Then we get a line listing of anybody that might need follow up with any kind of symptoms of coronavirus. Each of the local health departments in Utah will then contact the people on the list to find out if they need to be considered a person under investigation or if they need to be followed. Just to make sure that they know that we're here for them, if they have any symptoms. So far none of that has happened. We've not had any positive cases at all in Utah. We've had some of those travelers through the Summit County Health Department and none of them needed any kind of monitoring at all.”

Rose says the Summit County Health Department is following the CDC recommendations that residents limit nonessential travel to areas most highly impacted by the virus including China and South Korea. Level two alert countries have less risk, but limiting nonessential travel to those nations including Japan, Italy and Iran is recommended as well. Rose says that all eventual testing for the virus in Utah will be done at the state level.

“We still won't be testing mass amounts of people. It will still go through an algorithm of where have you been, who have you been around, and what are your symptoms, before their tested,” Rose continued. “There's a lot of illness going around right now, and we've had a lot of calls. Concerned people, which is really nice, they say, ‘well I traveled here’ or, ‘I traveled from there do I need to be tested, because I don't want to spread it.’ And that's really nice. I'm glad that people are at least thinking about it.”

The virus is spread through those in close contact within about six feet from an infected individual. Mainly spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, COVID-19 can also be spread by touching a surface that has the virus on it. Although information is still being gathered early signs show that the virus might pose less risk to children than it will to older individuals and those with underlying diseases.

If someone believes they have the virus they are encouraged to call their health care provider and their local health department. The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, meaning if someone is exposed to the virus, they are quarantined for two weeks and if they show no symptoms after that time period, they are presumed to have not contracted the disease. If someone were to contract Coronavirus within Summit County, Rose says the department would closely monitor that case.

"Probably self-isolation and taking your temperature a couple of times a day, but we'll see what happens,” Rose said. “It could just kind of go away and that would be lovely for everyone.”

Rose says they’re hearing a lot of questions of what you can do if you get the coronavirus.

“Well, right now? Nothing, because there's no treatment for it,” Rose explained. “It's fluids, aspirin, Tylenol for aches/pains/ fever. It's the same as it is with any of the other viruses. There's not a vaccine available as yet.”

Of course, the vast majority of people who have contracted coronavirus have lived, including a Tooele, Utah couple who are on their way back to the state and pose no risk of spreading the virus. Rose encourages residents to take what they’re hearing on international news with a grain of salt.

“Look at the valid data that's out there and that would be on the Utah Department of Health, the CDC's website and also the World Health Organization,” Rose continued. “All of these are going to give you factual data. There's going to be a lot of hearsay, just like there is with anything new that comes up. So just be careful what you're listening to and go to those websites to verify your information before you get panicked.”

Summit County Health Department

Utah Department of Health

US Center for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

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