The Utah Department of Health and Summit County Health Department announced Wednesday afternoon the state’s third confirmed case of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus had occurred in Summit County.
The patient a Summit County man only described as younger than 60 years old had recently traveled to Austria where he came in contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist Keegan McCaffrey praised the way the case was handled.
“The patient contacted a health care provider at first through the University of Utah’s tella-health system virtual urgent care, to be assessed for COVID-19,” McCaffrey explained. “He let his providers know of his travel history and his contact with the confirmed case. His symptoms and then clinicians from the University of Utah were able to prepare for that patient’s visit and collect clinical samples without having him enter a facility and further expose other people.”
McCaffrey says the man was in the US a few days, less than a week, before being tested.
Summit County Health Department and Utah Department of Health officials are working to connect with anyone who may have come in close contact with the patient recently. That contact tracing investigation in Utah starts at Salt Lake City International Airport, where the man landed. From there public health officials are identifying everyone the man came in close contact with. University of Utah Dr. Richard Orlandi reassured Summit County residents that efforts to identify those at risk have already been underway.
“It’s understandable that people want to know,” Orlandi said. “I think we also want to be respectful of this individual’s privacy, his health privacy. Rest assured that the Health Department is reaching out to those who might have been affected.”
So far assessing the man’s risk has revealed less than five people who are at moderate or high risk. Those people have been asked to self-isolate.
“They are getting calls every single day by the local health department, by Summit County,” McCaffery continued. “They’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work investigating the case. They’ll be following up with all those close contacts every single day to make sure that they are still asymptomatic, that they don’t need to be tested, and that they’re doing social distancing to keep other people safe.”
The fact that the patient is currently recovering at home is indicative of his condition.
“He’s doing well enough to be at home and hospitalization is not needed,” Orlandi explained. “Were it needed, he would be in the hospital. This is a disease that can have mild manifestations and more severe manifestations, obviously. This patient is fortunately in the milder case, where he’s able to be at home.”
When asked why the COVID-19 Coronavirus is receiving more attention as opposed to a normal yearly flu, Dr. Orlandi said there were two main reasons.
“In a population, a number of people are immunized for the flu and will have some immunity,” Orlandi said. “We know it’s not perfect. We all know that, those who had the flu this year. But a large number of people will have immunity, so the disease will not be able to spread through a community as quickly. There is no immunity for coronavirus. There’s no immunity for it because there’s no immunization for it. So, it’s going to spread more rapidly. That’s number one, number two is this is a more severe disease as far as the severity of an illness that a person can have, and even the mortality is higher than a typical flu.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, over 150 Utah residents have been tested for COVID-19.
You can read the full press release in English and Spanish here.