ST. GEORGE — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that his “stay safe, stay home” directives recommending people in the state to stay home and practice social distancing has been extended until April 30.
Also Thursday, Intermountain Healthcare announced it is placing a restriction on almost all visitors to its hospitals beginning Friday – including Dixie Regional Medical Center and Cedar City Hospital.
The governor’s directive was first announced on March 27 to try to keep the spread of the coronavirus to a level manageable for the state’s hospitals, and the governor said it was going to be reviewed every two weeks. Since then, Herbert has turned some of his directives into orders, including putting a moratorium on evictions through May 15 and ordering state parks to only allow those living in the county it lies in to visit.
“What I’ve come to appreciate more than ever before is the ability of the people of Utah to work together,” Herbert said at his daily coronavirus press conference.
Herbert has fallen short of issuing a mandatory shelter-in-place order like those that have been enacted in 42 other states, choosing individual counties in Utah to issue their own mandatory orders. Three counties – Salt Lake, Summit and Davis – have such orders. Such orders are not in place anywhere in Southern Utah.
Herbert defended not having a mandatory statewide order, saying with the statewide rate staying at around 5-8% additional cases per day, the “stay safe, stay home” initiative is working.
“The data we have shows what we have is working,” Herbert said. “The next two weeks are very critical.”
As of Thursday, there were 1,976 cases of the coronavirus in Utah with 13 deaths and 168 hospitalized, according to the Utah Department of Health.
After three days of a case downturn in Southern Utah, the Southwestern Utah Public Health Department reported five new cases in the five-county area Thursday – four of which were in Washington County with the fifth being in Kane County. There have been no new cases in Iron County since Sunday.
Herbert said he had a conversation Wednesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force. He said the extension until April 30 was in consultation with Fauci and intended to be in line with directives by President Donald Trump.
Herbert said more directives could become orders if there is any sign they aren’t stemming the spread of the virus in the state or are being ignored.
“All things are on the table,” Herbert said. “We can pull the lever at the outcomes we’re willing to have to keep everyone safe.”
Herbert also said he would be meeting with Utah Superintendent of Schools Sydnee Dickson in the next day or two to review the soft closure/dismissal of schools in the state and will announce next week whether students will finish the school year with remote learning.
Hospitals prohibiting most visitors
Intermountain Healthcare said Thursday that it will be restricting most visitors to its hospitals and clinics starting Friday. This includes Dixie Regional Medical Center, Cedar City Hospital and InstaCare locations throughout Southern Utah.
Intermountain has steadily been reducing the number of visitors that can enter its hospitals over the last few weeks, including checking the temperature of everyone entering Dixie Regional as of last Friday.
“We know being physically apart is difficult for patients and their families and friends – particularly during a hospital stay when having loved ones near gives patients comfort and peace,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher, chief physician executive for Intermountain, in a statement. “We encourage people to be creative with phones and iPads and stay connected through technology with their loved ones.”
All visitors to the hospitals and clinic are restricted except the following, and no visitors under 18 will be allowed:
- End-of-life patients may have two total designated visitors while in the hospital.
- Obstetric patients may have only one designated visitor for their entire hospital stay. A doula counts as a visitor.
- Healthy newborn patients may have both parents as visitors.
- Patients who are younger than 18 may have one visitor/guardian per 24 hours. However, there can be no more than two people designated as visitors/guardians throughout the entire hospital stay.
- Patients who require assistance from another adult to stay safe may have one designated visitor who may stay with the patient in the facility throughout their stay.
Patients visiting InstaCares are asked to come alone unless they are a minor or need assistance from another adult to be safe.
There was a significant last group of visitors to Dixie Regional Medical Center Thursday. Members of Bloomington Country Club delivered lunches in the emergency room of Dixie Regional Medical Center as a way to give thanks.
Emotional hotline set up
Working with the state, Intermountain Healthcare has set up a free hotline designed to help Utahns with emotional needs through the coronavirus pandemic.
The hotline, announced by the governor Thursday, will provide guidance, tools and other support to those with mental health needs.
“Stress that happens to individuals and families is acute,” Herbert said.
Trained caregivers will be manning the line from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week at 833-442-2211.
Mikelle Moore, senior vice president for community health with Intermountain, said mental health shouldn’t be forgotten in the current pandemic.
“Staying mentally healthy is so important for each of us, but the most important step is taking care of ourselves. This pandemic has many factors that can exacerbate stress,” Moore said. “Remember that things will get better eventually. We will get there.”
Moore said the hotline was tested out internally with Intermountain’s own staff in need of mental assistance and was put together in four days.
“Normally would take four months to create a service like this,” Moore said.
COVID-19 information resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Utah Department of Health
- Intermountain Healthcare
- To Donate and Volunteer to Help
Southern Utah coronavirus count
Positive COVID-19 tests: 48, including 1 death and 23 recoveries.
- Washington County: 31
- Iron County: 13
- Garfield County: 1
- Kane County: 3
- Beaver County: 0
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