ST. GEORGE — President Donald Trump declared a national emergency concerning the new coronavirus at the White House Friday. As part of the announcement, an online streamlining of virus testing was introduced through a partnership with Google and several retail outlets.
The president said the partnership will include drive-through testing at retail outlets including Walmart, Walgreens, Target and CVS. Walmart and Walgreens have locations in St. George and Cedar City, while Target and CVS have locations in St. George.
“Americans are the strongest and most resilient people, and we will need to make changes,” Trump said during the press conference. “It could get worse, some say it could wash through.”
The president said the move will make 5 million tests available to Americans by the end of the month, but he cautioned that people should only take the test if they’re showing symptoms.
The national emergency will allow extra funding and expanded authority for the executive branch to quickly make physical and financial assistance available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said at the press conference that the national emergency will allow quicker action without red tape.
“We’re going to be able to remove the constraints,” Fauci said.
Besides the emergency declaration, Trump said student loan interest on federal loans will be waived “for the time being” to help students, and he has ordered the federal oil reserve filled up.
It was also announced that any American returning from Europe as of tonight will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
The most immediate effect for residents locally will likely be a testing apparatus utilizing a new website, which has not been launched as of yet, and the retail outlets.
“We’re announcing a new approach to testing,” said Dr. Deborah Brix, who was named Friday to lead the White House COVID-19 testing response and previously served as the lead in AIDS prevention during former President Barack Obama’s administration.
A website set up by Google will serve as an initial screening question process to determine if someone is in need of testing. If the website determines testing is needed, the patient will be directed to the nearest drive-through clinic at the parking lot of one of the above-mentioned retail locations.
No exact timeline for the website or the retail drive-through testing was available during the press conference.
The Utah Department of Health added one more person diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus Friday, bringing the official state number to six. None of those infected have been south of counties in the Salt Lake City/Ogden area. None of the cases were contracted through community spread in the state. Rather, the patients contracted the virus through travel, including Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
Not counted in the total by state officials are three people visiting from out of state who tested positive and three Utahns who were infected aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, including a couple from St. George.
Those exhibiting symptoms are asked to call either their doctor or the hotline first before going into an emergency room or urgent care. The main symptoms of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include fever, fatigue, body aches, cough and shortness of breath. Recent travel is an exacerbating factor.
The CDC said people will likely be tested for influenza first, as many of the symptoms are the same, and a flu diagnosis rules out COVID-19.
Coronavirus.utah.gov provides up-to-the-minute information on the spread of the virus in the state as well as educational information on how to prevent getting the virus and how to deal with it if you are infected. It also includes information for health care providers.
Health care providers evaluating a patient for suspected COVID-19 are asked to contact the Utah Department of Health immediately at 888-EPI-UTAH (374-8824).
COVID-19 information resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Utah Department of Health
- Intermountain Healthcare
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