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Local News

COVID-19 Cases Trend in Utah is 'Concerning'

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Based on very favorable data of COVID-19 infection rates, Summit County officials were in support of the county moving from the moderate risk orange phase to the lower risk yellow phase last month. This was part of Utah’s approach to reopen the economy after it was shut it down to stop the spread.

But a new trend is troubling local officials – especially as state leaders now consider moving the state to a “smart green” level.

On Monday evening, Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough presented the most recent state and county COVID data at the Board of Health meeting. And he doesn’t like what he’s seeing...

“We have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 days in the past five days that are the greatest single day incidents of anytime during this outbreak with one exception. That's a very concerning trend.”

As some favorable data was happening with the county’s COVID cases – the change from orange to yellow was made. However, Bullough doesn’t blame that action...

He says he understands the need to find a balance between opening the economy and protecting public health.

“And nobody's found that balance yet and everybody is learning and so I want to be really clear that I am not being critical of the decisions that have been made. But people are making hard decisions on all sides of this equation and I think it's important that we recognize that we’re not going to find the balance, we’re  not going to find where it is, we’re not going to be able to control it,  identify it,  move on until we do some experimenting. And so, we have eased and now we are perhaps seeing the consequence of that.”

Looking at the curve of the last few weeks, he says this isn’t about cause and effect, but he’s hoping the trend reverses soon.

“You can't say that these days are a result of our move from orange to yellow,” Bullough said. “But if this trend continues, then we can begin to be more confident that there is a strong relationship there so obviously we are following this trend very, very closely.”

The increases are happening statewide in addition to the hotspots in the Navajo reservation and in Washington County.

At this point though – as the state looks to move toward the new smart green phase, he says it will be up to individuals to take responsibility for their own health…

“Be smart, social distance, wear masks,” he said, “because at this phase in this response, it's about personal behavior it's about how we respond to protecting ourselves and our communities in our neighbors and our families.”

Because the state guidelines are being updated so quickly, he says the county doesn’t have time to align any observed changes with COVID incidents to the changes in the guidelines. Because of that, he recommends if you’re not comfortable, back off.

“As things ease, it's on the public, Bullough said. “Bottom line, we wear masks. It's not ordered within the governor's order, but it's smart. We need the social distance. If you think an event isn't safe don't go. If you walk into a business that doesn't appear to be practicing safety don't go to that business. Ultimately, this is on us.”

The County is working on a campaign reminding people how dangerous the disease is – and just because you’re with friends, doesn’t mean you don’t need to continue to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

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