State sounds warning about southern Utah COVID cases

Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist from the Utah Department of Health, speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Southern Utah could see a surge in coronavirus cases after the area experienced its most contagious two weeks since the pandemic hit, the state epidemiologist warned Wednesday.

The five-counties in the southwestern health district recorded 55 new cases this week, and 56 cases the week before, the largest number of new cases since tracking began in mid-March, the Spectrum newspaper reported. The uptick can’t be explained by increased testing, epidemiologist Angela Dunn said.

“We’re asking the community to be a little more diligent in terms of social distancing recommendations and following health guidance,” Dunn said. “There is a potential for a surge in southern Utah at this point.”

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department confirmed its fourth death Tuesday from the virus. It causes flu-like symptoms that many people recover from but can be fatal, especially for older people or those with underlying health conditions. Overall, 90 people have died from the virus in Utah.

The area has recorded 255 cases, most of them in more-populous Washington County. The total represents a fraction of the approximately 7,700 statewide; the population center in Salt Lake County has been hardest hit overall.

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