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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.

Was COVID-19 At Sundance? State Doctor Says It's "Possible"

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Sundance Film Festival
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Utah’s state epidemiologist says it’s possible COVID-19 was circulating at Sundance.

The film festival took place over ten days at the end of January, months before Park City saw it’s first COVID-19 case. But when state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn was asked Wednesday if the virus came in with the crowds, she said it was possible.

"Sundance seems like it was a really long time ago, but it was definitely at the beginning of this outbreak and we worked really closely with the Sundance planners and Summit County to set up screening and education for all the Sundance-goers about symptoms because at that point we hadn’t had any cases and so we were really just monitoring for symptoms," said Dunn, speaking at a state COVID-19 news conference. "I don’t even think we had a U.S. case at that point. So those measures were put in place. But, again, I agree it is definitely possible that COVID-19was circulating at Sundance.”

Dunn went on to say she recommends people who felt they had symptoms of COVID-19 after Sundance work with their health department or healthcare provider and potentially get an antibody test. But other than that, there’s not a lot of interventions she feels would be "useful for public health."

Also at Wednesday’s news conference, Acting Director of Utah’s Department of Health, General Jefferson Burton, announced the Utah National Guard will be deployed to support testing efforts. "Their focus will be at our long-term care facilities to do more testing for our health care workers in those facilities," said Burton. "Also to augment our state labroratory to expand capacity. And then finally they’ll be able to help us with rapid response to hot spots and reach out to those high risk populations and those vulnerable groups who might need additional assistance.”

Burton said an additional 120 Guardsman will be deployed. He also mentioned Utah has been one of the top five states nationwide for testing, and with Utah’s 4.2% positive testing rate, the state is well below the national average. He feels comfortable moving to the orange alert level, as long as citizens do their part, like wearing masks when they’re out in public, and follow the statewide order allowing some businesses to re-open if they follow strict protocols. He added that order was just amended for churches.

“Churches can resume operation, however the one non-negotiable stipulation is the six foot social distancing required by the CDC. So to the extent that a church can open, maintain that distancing, map the seating, it may be that a small church has to have three Sunday services instead of one. But if they keep that distancing between family groups and make sure they’re following the guidelines, they can open.”

Some local officials in Southern Utah had asked Governor Herbert to allow them to move to a “yellow” alert level, which would do away with some of the state-mandated precautions. Burton said he reviewed the request with the governor. They denied it, Burton said, because they didn’t want to rush too quickly into a more relaxed stage. He said he is sympathetic with business owners who are struggling, but the public’s health is his number one priority.

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