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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.

75 COVID-19 Cases Tied To Park City Birthday Party

Summit County Health Department

An early August birthday party held at a lodge in Park City has resulted in 75 new COVID-19 cases. The age range of the afflicted falls into the 25 to 44-year-old demographic and almost all the cases are in the western part of Summit County.

Reports from some party goers indicate that guests who attended were predominantly not wearing face coverings. Summit County Public Health Director Rich Bullough says he’s incredibly frustrated about the incident.

“People need to understand that for us to function as normally as possible, we all need to be responsible. And the fact that somebody took it upon themselves to have what is apparently a large party and be irresponsible and not wear masks and not consider the impact on schools, businesses, individuals, families, it drives me nuts. And I’m frustrated. I'm confuse by it. I dont understand why somebody, and when I say somebody, I'm not just talking about the organizer, there a lot of people that attended this party, apparently. It is irresponsible and that is what frustrates me.”

As of this report, there are no hospitalizations resulting from the cases which are linked to the party. Bullough is worried about the number of new daily cases, but he’s not ready to put more restrictions on activities.

“Our current trending three-day average is 13 new cases a day so that's extremely concerning. You know we don't have all the information yet related to the event, but it appears that it lasted much of the day and that people were coming and going. And given the case numbers it appears that there were large numbers of people coming and going.”

The other measurement he is concerned with is the positivity rate which has jumped from about 2 and a half percent to almost 9%.

“Wasatch Front in particular and those in proximity to Summit County have been above the target of 5% for a significant amount of time. We were an outlier having such a low positivity rate. So now we see that creeping up. We’re more in line with Salt Lake and Utah County. That's absolutely concerning but we're not to the point of using that broad-brush stroke of going back to yellow phase yet.”

He says they’re having a difficult time getting accurate information from those who attended the party.

“There’s a significant number that are not returning our phone calls and then those individuals that we are speaking with, some of them are reporting numbers that are quite low, that attended this party. And when you begin to look at the surge in cases, that just doesn't make sense. We’re trying to identify who’s been in contact with positive cases so that we could begin to reign this in through quarantine. And then secondly, to begin to get a better picture of what occurred on that day. What we are hearing is that mask use was not prevalent. That would be in line with what we see with our data.”

Bullough says the use of masks has proven effective in preventing the spread of the virus. And he adds that businesses have willingly closed and sanitized when employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have restaurants that are closing because of this outbreak. They’ve closed to clean and reopened. There is evidence out there that there have been other businesses that have closed, other restaurants and bars, related to this specific event.  So, all of a sudden, we at the health department are again looking at broad brush strokes because we want to keep businesses open but when you have a single event like this, all of a sudden, you’re driving back to that position where businesses are going to have to close.

Bullough says one important threshold they use to measure the spread of COVID-19, is to look at new cases as a ratio to population. They want to see no more than 10 new cases per 100,000 people in the community. He says western Summit County, as a result of this large birthday party, is exceeding that for the past few days, with 13 new cases.  

Bullough has not released the name of the business responsible for hosting the birthday party . He says the event is still under investigation.


KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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