Live coronavirus updates for Saturday, March 28: Rep. Ben McAdams released from the hospital; Davis County offers new age data

(Photo courtesy of Ben McAdams via Twitter) Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, announced on Twitter that he was discharged from the University of Utah Hospital on Saturday, March 28, 2020. McAdams, who contracted the coronavirus, was first admitted on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing readers free access to critical local stories about the coronavirus during this time of heightened concern. See more coverage here. To support journalism like this, please consider donating or become a subscriber.

It’s Saturday, March 28. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]


8 p.m.: Davis County releases new data, shows differences by age

A new data dashboard showing Davis County’s coronavirus statistics gives a new perspective on how and who the disease is impacting — and perhaps insights into why.

The dashboard breaks down cases by age group and whether or not hospitalization was required. It also shows the number of tests, percent of positive tests, hospitalization rate and types of exposures.

Neither Summit nor Salt Lake counties, which have significantly higher number of cases, offer this much data.

As of Saturday afternoon, Davis County had 59 cases of COVID-19, with seven hospitalizations and one death. In Utah, 602 total have been diagnosed, with two deaths.

According to a news release, only three people under 18 in Davis County have tested positive for COVID-19. Officials believe the low number proves that school closures are protecting children.

The data also shows the highest number of cases —17 total, with one hospitalization — for people 18 to 34. Perhaps, the release said, indicating this age group isn’t social distancing like it should.

While that younger age group is being infected more often, the data also shows that people over 50 are more likely to be hospitalized. While 25 people in that age group have been diagnosed with coronavirus, six have required hospitalization, or about 24% of cases. That’s compared to just under 6% of cases in 18-34 year olds.

“[W]hich emphasizes the importance of our most vulnerable population limiting exposure and staying safe by staying home,” the release said.

The release said that Davis County expects social distancing measures will be in place for at least the next month, adding that the more people who comply, the quicker lives can return to normal.

— Paighten Harkins

4:15 p.m.: Congressman with coronavirus released from the hospital

After eight days in the hospital, Rep. Ben McAdams has been released, he announced in a tweet.

McAdams, D-Utah, was admitted on March 20, two days after his initial diagnosis, because of “severe shortness of breath.” He was the second member of Congress to be diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In a video posted to Twitter, McAdams thanked supporters for their thoughts, prayers and messages.

He also reminded viewers to practice COVID-19 preventative measures.

“Please take the advice of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] seriously. Please follow all of the guidelines,” he said, “and let’s get through this together.”

— Paighten Harkins

4 p.m.: Parents urged to watch out for cyberbullying

Salt Lake City School District told parents that while students are out of school because of the coronavirus and learning online, they are at an increased risk of being cyberbullied.

They offered a handful of tips Saturday to help parents keep their children safe.

The district said parents should keep an eye on students' online learning and social media usage. If parents notice a student is being bullied, email that student’s teacher or principal. Email addresses are listed on the schools’ webpage in the faculty and staff listings.

The district pointed parents to stopbullying.gov for more information, including how to recognize the warning signs that a child is being cyberbullied.

Signs include declining grades, difficulty sleeping and destructive behaviors, like self-harm, according to the website.

The district’s notice also told parents if their child has a safety plan in place, it and no-contact contracts can be modified to include language applicable to online learning.

— Paighten Harkins

3:30 p.m.: The DMV moving to drive-thru service

Utah has shut down all Department of Motor Vehicle lobbies in order to limit public gatherings and stop the spread of COVID-19.

The department is still offering drive-thru service at the Salt Lake, South Valley, Farmington, Ogden and Hurricane locations.

Those needing to update their vehicle registration can do so online at rex.utah.gov or at renewal station. To find a station near you, visit spot.utah.gov.

— Paighten Harkins

2:25 p.m.: Officials urge Utahns to recreate close to home if they’re heading outdoors

While venturing outdoors is a great way to relieve stress and prevent cabin fever, Utahns should only visit parks and recreation areas that are close to home, officials said in a news release issued Saturday.

A new website has been created at coronavirus.utah.gov/recreation that provides information about responsible recreation practices, closures and links to help individuals and families safely recreate on Utah’s public lands during the coronavirus pandemic.

The site is a joint effort to of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Utah residents can visit state parks that are located in the county where they live — per Governor Gary R. Herbert’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive.

Those recreating should keep a physical distance — at least 6 feet — from others and not congregate at common areas or trailheads. Visitors should also stay away from parks and recreation areas when they are sick or have symptoms; practice “pack it in and pack it out” etiquette; and respect facility closures.

Visitors should check the status of the recreation area they are looking to visit before heading out.

1:30 p.m.: Utah now has 602 confirmed cases of COVID-19

Utah now has 602 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the latest numbers released Saturday from the Utah Department of Health.

Utah added 122 new cases in the past day, jumping from 480 on Friday. It marks the largest one-day increase since March 23. Utah has had two deaths related to the virus. No new deaths were reported Saturday.

Utah announced 78 new cases on Friday.

The total number of people tested also rose Saturday, from 9,244 to 11,312.

The total number of cases in Salt Lake County jumped from 221 to 279, while the cases in Summit County, increased from 110 to 135.

More cases were reported in northern Utah regions in the past 24 hours with both Davis County and Weber-Morgan County reporting nine new cases each. Davis now has 59 cases, while Weber-Morgan has 29.

Wasatch County numbers increased from 29 to 36 cases.

— Kathy Stephenson

11:30 a.m.: Ex-jail inmate becomes Uintah County’s first COVID-19 victim

A former jail inmate has the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Uintah County, officials announced Saturday. However, the TriCounty Health Department does not believe the individual contracted the virus while in the facility, Steve Labrum, with the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The individual had been in the jail for more than four months before being released on March 16, according to jail records and conversations with health department officials. He had no symptoms upon release. The individual said he visited friends in Salt Lake County on March 23, and upon returning to Uintah County, was seen by a healthcare provider for symptoms associated with COVID-19 on March 25.

“TriCounty Health officials are confident the individual would have shown symptoms before March 24, if he had been exposed to COVID-19 in the jail,” Labrum said in the release.

Labrum said the sheriff’s office has taken several proactive steps to mitigate the risk of exposure for staff and inmates.

“With the extra room the jail has, we have been able to segregate housing units so there is no cross-contamination or interaction between housing units,” he said. “Volunteers have not been allowed in the jail since March 13, 2020. On March 14, 2020 any inmate movement between housing units stopped completely.”

In addition, individuals who were in the same housing unit as the individual who has now tested positive for COVID-19 are being checked twice daily for elevated temperature and watched for illness.

— Kathy Stephenson

10:40 a.m.: Grand County announces its first case

The first positive COVID-19 case in Grand County is a resident who is between the ages of 25 and 45. The woman is believed to have contracted the coronavirus through her interactions with people who live outside of the state.

This comes from a news release issued by the Southeast Utah Health Department, which will not disclose any more about the patient.

“This may be our first confirmed case, but we do not assume it is our only case,” said Bradon Bradfod, this area health department’s health officer. “We would like to remind the community that we need to act and go through our days as if we already have the virus moving through our community. By behaving this way, we limit our exposure to others, thus decreasing the chance for community spread of disease.”

The woman and those she has known to be in contact with have been asked to remain in their homes for at least the next 14 days.

Moab, the Grand County’s main city, has banned visitors from booking hotel rooms and the federal government closed access to Arches and Canyonlands on Saturday.

— Matt Canham

10:20 a.m.: Intermountain offers nine questions to ask teens

For teenagers who are missing their friends or their graduation or sporting events, this can be an emotional and uncertain time.

What can parents do to keep their teenagers emotionally healthy?

In a new video, Intermountain Healthcare is pointing Utah residents to its Personal Health Questionnaire. It includes nine questions parents can ask to evaluate the emotional stability of their child.

“Suicide is the No. 1 cause of death for our adolescent population in the state,” Travis Mickelson, Intermountain’s associate medical director of mental health integration, said. The questionnaire is something every teenager and every parent can use “to help them have that conversation and get a sense of how concerned they might be.”

For example, he said, “It’s much more common for children and adolescence to express depression with an irritable mood rather than a sad mood,” he said. “What you’ll also see in these nine questions are other signs that go along with depression such as apatite changes, sleep changes, energy changes, concentration changes.”

If you or anyone you know is contemplating self harm please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or Utah’s Crisis Line & Mobile Outreach team at 801-587-3000.

It would also be a good idea to download the SafeUT app for Android and iPhones.

— Kathy Stephenson

9:40 a.m.: Harmons pickup and delivery services returns Monday

Harmons Grocery Stores says its curbside pickup and home delivery services will return on a limited basis beginning Monday.

The eShop hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but there will be no same-day service, store chairman Bob Harmon wrote in a customer email. “Slots will be available the next day at the earliest.”

The Utah-based grocery store temporarily shut down its online offerings a few weeks ago so employees could address needs inside its stores, which were flush with customers preparing to stay home and ride out the coronavirus.

Harmon warned that not every item will be available as the online inventory comes from store shelves, which have been depleted in the pandemic. Also, because of limited product in some areas, employees may also substitute like items to fulfill customer orders.

Harmon anticipates that many high-demand items — like toilet paper, bleach and sanitizing products — may still be unavailable and customers need to be patient.

“We understand that in these uncertain times, being able to pick up needed staples without entering the grocery store is a valuable service, particularly for our at-risk customers,” he said. “We are taking every possible step to keep our customers and associates safe, while keeping our shelves stocked and our stores sanitized."

— Kathy Stephenson