SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Classes at Utah schools will remain dismissed at least through May 1, Gov. Gary Herbert said Monday as the number of diagnosed cases of the new coronavirus spiked.
“These are unprecedented times in Utah’s and our nation’s history,” Herbert said in a statement. Herbert said he's seen an outpouring of support during the crisis, especially in the way educators are supporting students and families. School meal services for low-income kids will continue as needed.
Technical colleges will also begin a pause on March 30, joining universities that have moved to online only.
The announcement came shortly after a Utah congressman was hospitalized and a state lawmaker was diagnosed with the disease over the weekend. State officials said Monday the state has 257 cases, up from 181 cases on Sunday.
University of Utah Health and ARUP Laboratories has also expanded their testing capacity to 1,500 tests a day, allowing people to be tested even if they haven't had confirmed contact with an infected person.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover.
In other developments:
— Zion National Park in southern Utah is closing part of a popular trail called Angel's Landing that is often crowded with people. The top part of the hike that is being closed is bordered by steep drops and ascends some 1,500 feet (457 meters) above the southern Utah park's red-rock cliffs, offering sweeping views. Park officials didn't say exactly why it was being closed other than being part of the park's ongoing modifications because of the coronavirus.
The park tweeted on Sunday with a picture of the trail taken on Saturday and the caption, “Practice #SocialDistancing! CDC says to avoid groups larger than 10 and stay 6 feet apart. You can help slow the spread of COVID-19! We do not recommend hiking busy narrow trails (like Angels Landing).”
The park also said it's closing its campgrounds. The moves come after Zion has already stopped its shuttles used by most visitors.
— Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams was treated with oxygen in an isolation unit after suffering severe shortness of breath Friday evening, he said in a statement. Afterwards, he reported feeling “relatively better” and said he expected to be released from the hospital as soon as his doctors allow.
— Democratic state Sen. Luz Escamilla was separately diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday evening. She has experienced symptoms and is quarantined along with her family, she said late Sunday.
“As someone who has asthma, this is a scary diagnosis, but I am confident that I will make a full recovery,” she said in a statement, adding that she is still working on behalf of people affected by the crisis as she recovers.
The capitol was cleaned and disinfected after lawmakers finished their work on March 12, said Senate President Stuart Adams as he sent best wishes to Escamilla and her family. Staffers have been working remotely since then and the building has been closed to the public.
— Salt Lake City Council Member Darin Mano has also been diagnosed with the illness.