Confirmed Summit County COVID-19 Cases Reach 13
After issuing a public health order Sunday to close many businesses countywide, Summit County officials provided an update and an idea of what to expect during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Summit County reached 13 by noon Monday, according to Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough. Those new cases are still being investigated, but Bullough says it’s becoming less likely that instances of the disease will be related to travel.
“I think more and more we can expect to see that the overwhelming majority of our cases will be community spread,” Bullough said.
Although testing has recently ramped up at the state public health lab and commercial labs, Bullough says there’s still not capacity to test everyone. Protocols from the CDCinclude testing those who have traveled from high-risk areas; individuals who have had direct contact with a known positive case; and those who show symptoms – fever, dry cough, shortness of breath – but have tested negative for flu.
As for the first case of community spread, which is tied to an employee at The Spur Bar and Grill on Park City’s Main Street, Bullough says health officials aren’t so concerned with those who visited the bar as much as other employees.
“It’s more the direct contact with coworkers that we’re concerned about,” Bullough said. “So it’s that initial contact group that we’re contacting and following up. They are isolating and self-monitoring.”
The public health order issued by Bullough and Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson Sunday required businesses where large groups of people gather, such as restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms, to close, with some exceptions for restaurants offering takeout or curbside service. Bullough says the point is to target high-density facilities to slow the spread of disease.
“If this thing spikes quickly and begins to grow exponentially, our health care system will quickly be overwhelmed,” Bullough said. “We’re just trying to slow that spread, and, in essence, allow the medical system to deal with the most acute cases without being overwhelmed.”
Bullough says some restaurants did not follow the public health order and remained open after 5 p.m. Sunday. The Summit County Sheriff’s Department will issue citations to businesses that defy the order.
The order will be reviewed by the county in two weeks, but Bullough says the situation is unlikely to change then. Wasatch County confirmed its first case of COVID-19 Monday, and Salt Lake County followed Summit County’s lead by barring dine-in service at restaurants and bars. Bullough says the county will evaluate the risk within the county but will also consider the spread of the virus at a broader level.
“It would be very foolish if perhaps we have a slowdown in the escalation of these cases in our community, which we’re certainly hoping for,” Bullough said, “but it would be foolish to change direction if we see that because then it will just reverse and begin to grow again.”
Summit County restaurants have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 to notify county officials if they will begin curbside takeout service.