First Confirmed Utah Death Due to COVID-19
The Utah Department of Health announced Sunday the first COVID-19 death in Utah. A Davis County man over the age of 60 died at Lakeview Hospital. Doctors say he had been in the hospital for two days before he died, he had underlying medical conditions, and they believe his exposure to COVID-19 was travel related.
In a news conference Sunday, Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah’s state epidemiologist, said the first death in the state is a sobering reminder about the importance of taking the necessary steps to avoid the virus.
“Everything we’ve been recommending up to this point, social distancing, staying home when you’re ill, calling your provider and not just walking in, using telehealth, those are more important now, " said Dunn. "We really need to as a culture and society start imbedding those practices into our daily lives. I understand our lives are disrupted right now. But it is essential to make sure our case count is low and we minimize the deaths here in Utah.”
Dr. Michael Baumann, the Chief Medical Officer for Mountainstar Health Care, said the patient’s family did the right thing when they alerted doctors. “They knew there was an issue, they called ahead, and that allowed us to be even better prepared to take care of this patient," said Baumann. "That allowed us to use the proper personal protective equipment to not only take care of the patient but to keep our staff and other patients safe.”
Dunn said she did not think Utah was headed towards a mandatory lockdown. "New York and California have taken more extreme measures in terms of lockdown and sheltering in place. Here in Utah we know people will do the right thing and maintain social distance, especially when ill so we don’t have to get to that point. So we’re relying on individuals to be able to have that discipline to stay at home and not be in congregant settings.”
The Utah Department of Health amended a recent order regarding mass gatherings to clearly remove the potential criminal penalty associated with gatherings in groups larger than ten people. The order also says individuals should avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.