State looking for feedback on emergency alerts; first COVID-19 cases in a week in Iron County

Undated photo in an undisclosed location of a small wireless base station tower. | Photo by Ta Nu, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With many far from the border between Utah and Arizona reporting that they are still getting mobile phone COVID-19 declaration alerts from the state’s Emergency Management System, the Utah Division of Emergency Management is seeking feedback from residents who say they have been receiving the messages by mistake.

Map of the Utah-Arizona border near St. George showing the area in yellow inside the Virgin River Gorge where the state Emergency Alert System for COVID-19 declarations is meant to be activated for those entering the state. | Photo courtesy Utah Division of Emergency Management, St. George News

The state launched the virtual checkpoints near the Port of Entry on northbound Interstate 15 and on U.S. Highway 89 near Kanab on Friday after an order by Gov. Gary Herbert for those entering from out-of-state to voluntarily declare whether the have been tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Almost immediately, readers reported to St. George News that they had been receiving the alerts multiple times from as far away from the state line as Santa Clara, Hurricane, LaVerkin and even Cedar City. St. George News did its own investigation and was receiving the messages in Santa Clara.

The DEM said Sunday that they have done further refining of the alert zones, including trying to limit them to 10 miles south of the Utah-Arizona border on I-15. However, readers were still reporting receiving messages multiple times on their phones Sunday in places like LaVerkin and Hurricane by those who never left home.

The system uses cell towers to send one-way messages to phones in the alert areas. However, the state said it was possible for the messages to be inadvertently sent from other towers. A DEM spokesman also said they had no way to know if the message was received, only if it was sent.

To make further refinements, the DEM is seeing feedback from the public on the system, especially those who have received the message by mistake.

The feedback form can be accessed at this link.

New cases in Iron County

A novel coronavirus test can detect the presence of 2019-nCoV or COVID-19 virus in clinical specimens. Undated photo. | Photo by Anya Ivanova/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

On Sunday, Iron County had its first positive COVID-19 tests after going a week without one according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Before Sunday, Iron County had its last report of a positive COVID-19 test on April 5.

There were two positive tests in Iron County and one in Washington County to bring the Southern Utah total up to 56. Beaver County remains the one county in Southern Utah to have reported no positive COVID-19 tests.

The Utah Department of Health said there have been 2,303 coronavirus cases in the state with 18 deaths, including one in Southern Utah.

COVID-19 information resources

Southern Utah coronavirus count

Positive COVID-19 tests: 56, including 1 death and 26 recoveries.

  • Washington County: 37
  • Iron County: 15
  • Garfield County: 1
  • Kane County: 3
  • Beaver County: 0

Hospitalized: 4

Tests performed (as of April 8): 3,016

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!