The first cases of COVID-19 have been officially detected in Cache Valley as a Logan couple tested positive for the virus, but health officials are stressing that it isn’t cause for additional alarm.
“Individuals who may have had close contact with confirmed cases will be notified by the health department,” BRHD stated Wednesday afternoon. “The health department has been receiving numerous calls from people who are concerned about the announcement of a positive case, as well as rumors of additional cases. Please be informed that our epidemiology team investigates all potential cases.”
Due to a 5.7 earthquake epicentered in Magna on Wednesday morning, the Utah Coronavirus Information Line is down and residents are encouraged to call a temporary line, 1-844-442-5224, for the time being. A daily coronavirus briefing was cancelled Wednesday as the Salt Lake area responded to the quake.
The new confirmations bring the new total of confirmed cases in the Bear River Health District, which includes Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties, to three. This includes one case in Box Elder first reported Tuesday.
According to a person claiming to be a family member, a Cache Valley couple recently returned from international travel and were taken to the ER after complaining of fever and respiratory symptoms. They were hospitalized and tested for COVID-19. A few days later, the test reportedly came back positive and were told to self-isolate at home. It is unconfirmed whether the couple are the two cases reported by the health department.
“Utah’s disease surveillance system is working as designed, as public health officials and health care providers are coordinating to identify and investigate potential cases,” the release states. “The BRHD has activated emergency preparedness plans to ensure effective communication and coordination takes place with all involved agencies.”
While many residents have been watching the official numbers, waiting for the first confirmed cases to show up locally, it’s likely that the virus has been in Cache Valley for some time before the first confirmed case. It’s important to stay calm and follow health officials’ recommendations, including self-isolation for those who feel sick and social distancing for everyone else.
Over the past several days, local, state and national leaders have been issuing increasingly cautious recommendations, including cancellation of public gatherings. Tuesday evening, Gov. Gary Herbert ordered all Utah restaurants and bars to stop dine-in operations. Organizations have cancelled events, and Utah State University and K-12 schools have moved classes online.
Frequent hand-washing and social distancing precautions — staying at least 6 feet away from others and avoiding public gatherings when at all possible — are recommended even for people who feel healthy. Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, said Monday that she hopes millennials are “the core group that will stop the virus” due to their ability to stay in touch and communicate without meeting in-person.
While the Centers for Disease Control believes people with coronavirus are most contagious when their symptoms are at their worst, it may be possible to pass the virus along before an individual feels sick.
While it’s impossible to keep COVID-19 from spreading into Cache Valley, the goal of the precautions in effect locally and nationwide are to slow the transmission of the virus enough that the cases at any given time don’t exceed hospital capacity.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Utah Department of Health reported 53 state residents and 10 visitors confirmed to have COVID-19, but those numbers only list one confirmed case in the Bear River Health District, while BRHD is now reporting three.