Utah coronavirus cases rise past 3,000, Southern Utah adds one case; Capitol rally protests restrictions

A man looks on during the Utah Business Revival rally, calling for Utah's economy to be reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday, April 18, 2020. | Photo by Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — At least 27 people in Utah have died and 3,069 have tested positive for the coronavirus, state health officials reported Sunday, a day after about a thousand people violated a Salt Lake City health order by rallying against city social distancing and business restrictions designed to curb the virus’ spread.

People gather during the Utah Business Revival rally, calling for Utah’s economy to be re-opened during the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. | Photo by Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, St. George News

Locally, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department reported one new case Sunday – in Washington County – for a total of 66 since the first Southern Utah case was reported on March 21.

Sunday’s data from the Utah Department of Health was released hours after protesters, many of them without masks and exchanging hugs, rallied at Salt Lake City Hall to demand a relaxation of health orders they said are costing jobs and ruining the economy.

The Utah Business Revival protest was among several in U.S. cities against the restrictions. President Donald Trump last week urged governors to relax state health orders by tweeting “Liberate Michigan” and ”Liberate Virginia” only hours after his White House released guidance on reopening the economy that allows the states to decide when to act.

“We have to let (officials) know, with our voice, that it’s ‘We the People’ and not ‘They the Government,’” Salt Lake rally organizer Eric Moutsos said to cheers from a tight-packed crowd, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

People gather during the Utah Business Revival rally, calling for Utah’s economy to be re-opened during the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. | Photo by Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, St. George News

City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a statement noting that the gathering violated a public health order, which forbids mass gatherings of 100 people or more in public spaces.

On Friday, Gov. Gary Herbert said Utah hopes to reopen restaurants and gyms and resume elective surgeries in early May as the first steps to gradually reopen the economy. The Republican governor said the plan mirrors the White House guidelines but depends on citizens observing social distancing.

Utah is one of only a few states without a blanket stay-home order. Herbert has requested that people go out only for essential activities.

COVID-19 information resources

Southern Utah coronavirus count (as of April 19, 2020)

Positive COVID-19 tests: 66, including 1 death and 46 recoveries.

  • Washington County: 45 (1 new)
  • Iron County: 17
  • Garfield County: 1
  • Kane County: 3
  • Beaver County: 0

Hospitalized: 2

St. George News reporter/weekend editor Chris Reed contributed to this story.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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