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 Thursday, April 2. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.
[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]
6:30 p.m.: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources closing public shooting ranges
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ two public shootings ranges will be closed on Friday and remain that way indefinitely.
The division said they chose to shutter the shooting ranges — the Lee Kay Public Shooting Range in Salt Lake City and the Cache Valley Public Shooting range in Logan — to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The change comes after visitors to the range hadn’t been adhering to social distancing guidelines, according to a news release.
— Paighten Harkins
5:11 p.m.: GREENbike annual membership now a penny for those who can’t telework
GREENbike, Salt Lake City’s non-profit bike share, announced Thursday that it was discounting its annual membership to $0.01 for anyone unable to telework during the coronavirus.
Those workers include health care professionals, law enforcement officers and first responders, grocery store employees, bank workers and employees of charitable and social service organizations.
“We want to make sure those who are working during this time have access to as many affordable and safe transportation options as possible,” said Ben Bolte, the organization’s founder and director, in a news release.
Eligible employees can go to greenbikeslc.org/join to purchase an annual pass and use the promotional code “Essential2020″ to get the discount through April 14 or as long as the governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive is in place.
The regular rate for an annual membership is $75, according to GREENbike’s website, with discounts available to senior citizens, active and retired military and students and teachers.
GREENbike also announced increased sanitation efforts on Thursday to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus among its users. Bike technicians are disinfecting all high-touch surfaces, wiping down stations and cleaning tools; working alone in staggered shifts; and using disposable gloves and hand sanitizer whenever working on bikes.
The company is asking riders to remain at least 6 feet apart from other people while riding, following strict hygiene standards before and after using a bike and to check out bikes using the BCycle app on their smartphones. Bicyclists are also encouraged to consider wearing gloves while operating a GREENbike.
— Taylor Stevens
2:25 p.m.: Utah Attorney General’s Office coordinating donations of protective equipment to police officers
The Utah Attorney General’s Office is partnering with several businesses to get protective equipment to police officers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials say law enforcement officers are running out of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to use while they are working in the community and coming into contact with people.
So far, PC Laptops has donated more than 1,000 masks and Sherwin Williams has provided 2,500 items to be distributed. Most of those receiving masks are in rural communities in northern, central and southern Utah, according to the attorney general’s office.
State officials emphasized that these supplies do not take away from those who are working to provide protection equipment to health care workers, but added that law enforcement have been advised to wear PPE whenever possible.
“We all realize the need for hospitals to get masks and supplies," Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement. “And while we all work together to get that done, our first responders are answering emergency calls and keeping our communities safe. We owe it to them to provide some protection in the line of duty.”
— Jessica Miller
2:10 p.m.: Here’s where you can pick up medicine without going into the grocery store
As health officials urge Utahns to practice social distancing, several grocery stores are providing options to pick up medication without going inside.
“As we all work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, Harmons is offering an extra service for at-risk customers, helping you get the medication you need while reducing your exposure” Chairman Bob Harmon said in a news release. “We are offering curbside pharmacy pickup at our locations which do not have drive-thru windows.”
Here’s how to use Harmons’ curbside pickup service:
- For new prescriptions call the pharmacy and request curbside pickup.
- For refills, make your request by phone, mobile app, or on Harmons’ website, and then call the pharmacy to request curbside pickup.
- The pharmacist will answer questions and take your payment information over the phone.
- When your prescription is ready, you’ll get a phone call or text message.
When you arrive at the store, pull into one of the designated eShop parking stalls, call the pharmacy at 801-428-0399, and staff will bring you your order.
Several other grocery stores also have options to pick up medicine from the pharmacy while practicing social distancing. Here are the store locations:
• 922 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, walk-up window.
• 455 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, drive-thru.
• 828 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City, $8 delivery service to have it sent to your house.
• 1174 W. 600 North, Salt Lake City, drive-thru.
• 3215 S. Valley St., Salt Lake City, drive-thru and walk-up window.
• 845 E. 4500 South, Salt Lake City, curbside pickup.
• 350 W. Hope Ave., Salt Lake City, curbside pickup.
• 2705 Parleys Way, Salt Lake City, curbside pickup.
• 4627 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, drive-thru.
For more information.
• 1110 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, (CVS pharmacy) free home delivery for some prescriptions.
• 5518 W. High Market Drive, West Valley City, (CVS pharmacy) free home delivery for some prescriptions.
Dan’s Fresh Market
• 2029 E. 7000 South, Cottonwood Heights, drive-thru.
• 187 E. 1000 North, Spanish Fork, drive-thru.
• 5632 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, drive-thru.
• 4530 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, drive-thru.
• 50 S. Highway 165, Providence, drive-thru.
• 3151 W. Kilby Road, Jeremy Ranch, drive-thru.
— Zoi Walker
1:45 p.m.: Utah’s small number of additional coronavirus cases ‘give us hope’ as new testing initiative begins, governor says
Gov. Gary Herbert sees relatively good news in the daily numbers of coronavirus cases in Utah — only 62 more Thursday than the day before.
“We hope that trend continues. It’s too soon to tell. The new numbers give us hope … that we’re slowing this down,” Herbert said. “The next two weeks, again — and I’ll mention it again and I’ll probably mention it again tomorrow — are critical.”
The lag in getting people tested remains a problem, Herbert said. “We’ve been working 24/7, around the clock, to find ways to improve testing,” he said, before announcing new aid from the private sector.
Dave Elkington, CEO of InsideSales.com, described the Utah “Crush the Curve” campaign, which he called “the largest health assessment ever done in the state of Utah.”
“We think we can get ahead of this, and not just flatten the curve, but we can crush the curve,” Elkington said.
First, the state of Utah and technology companies are rolling out a new website to help determine who has symptoms of the coronavirus and to direct symptomatic people for testing. Multiple Utah technology and health care companies helped develop the site, which asks people questions about their symptoms and can direct them to the nearest testing center.
The campaign also will set up mobile testing stations. Two have been established, in Orem and south Provo, Elkington said. “We’re treating this like a brand-new start-up,” Elkington said. “We hope to have tents from the north all the way to the south.”
Six more sites will open soon, Herbert said.
The campaign then will focus on tracing contacts of those who test positive, Elkington said. None of the personal information in the data is viewed by those working on the assessment, Elkington said, and all personal data will be deleted once the pandemic has passed.
Silicon Slopes will hold a virtual town hall Thursday at 4 p.m. with details on the campaign, and will offer daily updates on its progress. Clint Betts, CEO of the nonprofit Silicon Slopes, praised the generosity of the companies joining the effort.
“No tech company is going to make any money off of this — we’ll make sure of it,” said Betts, also a member of the board of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said the campaign doesn’t stop the need for Utahns to practice social distancing. “None of what we’re doing matters if we don’t stay home and stay safe,” the lieutenant governor said.
And Cox said the start-up may have some bumps in the road. “We’re doing things in the next couple weeks that should take six months to do,” he said.
Ryan Smith, CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics, noted that the coronavirus is “spreading in Utah, it’s real, but we have a chance to do something and get ahead of it.”
“All the resources we have from our companies, all the funding we can bring to this — together we think we can get back on our feet,” Smith said.
During the news conference, Herbert also reminded people in the at-risk groups — those over 65, and those with existing health issues — “need to be extra cautious.” And he asked Utahns to make the “needful sacrifice” to not travel, other than essential trips, as spring weather arrives.
The governor noted that “the news is pretty grim” with the unemployment figures released Thursday. “We’ve had more unemployment claims in the last two weeks than in all of 2019,” he said.
One way people can help the state’s economy, he said, is to take part in the “Triple T Challenge,” by ordering takeout from local restaurants three days a week.
Herbert noted that visitors arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport get screened for coronavirus, but a full-scale quarantine on outside visitors — such as Hawaii has — may not be feasible in Utah.
“We’ve talked about having checkpoints on our freeways … in some rational and reasonable way,” Herbert said, but no decisions have been made.
— Sean P. Means
1 p.m.: Utah reports 1,074 coronavirus cases, no new deaths
Utah is up to 1,074 coronavirus cases, though no one else has died, according to the Utah Department of Health.
Three people had died from coronavirus over the previous two days. The health department says 100 people have been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms. That number was 91 Wednesday.
The increase in positive cases was just 6% compared to Wednesday, the smallest percentage gain since the pandemic arrived in Utah on March 6. But the statistic comes with a caveat: The state reported less than a thousand new tests Thursday.
— Nate Carlisle
12:30 p.m.: Eccles Foundation offers $50K to match ‘Tip Your Server’ donations
Salt Lake City’s “Tip Your Server” program — which is offering grants to bar and restaurant workers in the city who lost their jobs due to coronavirus-related business closures — is getting a boost from one of Utah’s more prominent philanthropic foundations.
In a video update posted on the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development’s Twitter feed Thursday, actor and restaurateur Ty Burrell — whose plea to Utah businesses and government entities sparked the grant program — announced that the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation will match donations to the fund, up to $50,000. Donations are tax-deductible.
The “Modern Family” star — who, with his wife, Holly, are part owners of Bar X and Beer Bar in Salt Lake City, the Cotton Bottom Inn in Holladay, and The Eating Establishment in Park City — kicked off the grant program with the city and the Downtown Alliance on March 20. The Burrells seeded the fund with a $100,000 donation.
Since then, the fund has raised another $76,265 from more than 1,000 donors, as of Thursday. In his message Thursday, Burrell thanked those donors, singling out a few who gave big donations: Ogden’s Own Distillery, the Peace and Possibility Project, Tito’s Handmade Vodka (in partnership with Young’s Market Company), Squatters and Wasatch Brewery founders Jeff Polychronis and Peter Cole, and Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles and his wife, Renae.
"We all know that during this period, and during the worry financially, it’s a challenge to decide where to put your money, or whether or not you feel you can contribute anything,” Burrell said in the video.
City and Downtown Alliance officials are processing claims for the fund, submitted by employers. The first round will cover up to five workers at each of 40 randomly selected establishments — a total of 200 employees.
The Downtown Alliance estimates there are some 15,000 workers in Salt Lake City’s bars and restaurants. Many have been laid off after a county order to close bars and limit restaurants to takeout and delivery options.
— Sean P. Means
12:20 p.m.: Shop with a Utah farmer for fresh vegetables, meat and eggs
A subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program helps consumers buy fresh fruit and vegetables — as well as eggs, dairy and meat — directly from Utah farmers.
These services offer perks that are especially relevant during the coronavirus pandemic — online ordering as well as pickup and delivery.
For those who want to join a CSA, sign-ups are underway for the 2020 growing season. Just pay the fee, and in return you will receive a portion of the farm’s produce during the growing season. Prices vary, but shares usually start at about $35 a week for one to two people.
Salt Lake City’s Green Urban Lunch Box, a nonprofit that promotes area farms, healthy eating and sustainable gardening through its mobile greenhouse — a converted 35-foot school bus — has several CSA options, said development director Jenae Ridge.
There are other CSA program as well, including:
- SLC Top Crops — Offers no-contact pickups of greens and spring crops.
- Hand Sown Homegrown — Buy bread, produce, honey, kombucha, pickles/ferments, mushrooms and more from an online farm store.
- Clifford Family Farms — Buy eggs, honey and meat from a self-serve store in Provo or sign up for delivery to Salt Lake City.
- Utah Natural Meat — Buy eggs, cheese, milk, and meat, with their pickup options.
- Drake Family Farms — The farm store is open and some products can be found at Harmons, Liberty Heights Fresh and Sprouts.
- Beltex Meats — This locally/regionally sourced whole animal butcher shop offers delivery for a “Butcher’s Basics” package.
— Kathy Stephenson
11:10 a.m.: Feds send $220 million to help Utah transit
Nearly $220 million in federal grants are headed to Utah to help its mass transit agencies survive and continue service as ridership drops during the COVID-19.
The Federal Transit Administration announced Thursday how it is dividing $25 billion made available for transit through the federal relief package. It is following previous formulas to distribute federal transit money.
It announced that $112.1 million will go to the Salt Lake City-West Valley City urban area; $49.4 million to the Ogden-Layton urban area; and $25.7 million to Provo-Orem.
The Utah Transit Authority serves those three areas. Last week, it said that its ridership is down by 65%, and announced service cuts that take effect on Sunday.
The FTA also announced that it is making available $5.3 million for Logan and $4.7 million for St. George. Both of those areas operated their own transit systems.
Another $22.3 million is being sent to Utah to distribute to transit services in rural areas. Examples are transit systems that operate in Park City and Uintah County. The federal government is also making available $130,940 to the Ute Tribe.
The money is designed to support capital, operating and other expenses to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19 that have been made since Jan. 20.
“These funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.
— Lee Davidson
11:05 a.m.: Many Utah Deseret Book stores open with curbside service
Most retail and distribution outlets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are closed around the world due to the coronavirus.
But a church news release Wednesday noted the following Deseret Book stores in Utah remain open with curbside service only:
American Fork, Bountiful, Cedar City, Clinton, Draper, Fort Union, Layton, Logan, Ogden, Orem Parkway, Riverton, Spanish Fork, St. George, Sugar House, Orem University Village, Valley Fair in West Valley City, and West Jordan.
— David Noyce
9:05 a.m.: Curbside COVID-19 testing site opening in Park City
A curbside location for COVID-19 testing is being set up for Summit County residents.
The location, a joint effort of Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health, will be running at the Park City Ice Arena at 600 Gilmore Way in Park City. It offers screening assessment and testing without a physician’s order, and is open to everyone, with or without health insurance.
The site will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“We are committed to testing as many individuals as possible to help control and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Richard Orlandi, U of U Health’s chief medical officer for ambulatory health, said in a statement issued by the two hospital groups Thursday.
The ice arena “provides easy access for cars and a smooth flow of traffic, which are important as the need for testing increases,” Rebecca Couper-Noles, Intermountain’s vice president for medical group operations, said in a statement.
People are encouraged to call ahead, so a health care professional can assess symptoms over the phone to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19. Calling ahead isn’t required, but it will save time and help caregivers prepare.
Intermountain’s COVID-19 hotline is 844-442-5224. People can also go to the website, IntermountainHealthCare.org, for information or to use the company’s online Symptom Tracker App to see if they need to be tested at one of Intermountain’s 20 drive-up sites.
The U of U Health hotline is 801-587-0712. People can call to get an initial screening to find out if they should be tested at one of the five U of U Health drive-up sites — in Park City, Sugar House, South Jordan, Redwood or Farmington.
Summit County has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday, the county has had 204 confirmed cases — about one-fifth of the statewide total of 1,012.
— Sean P. Means
8:30 a.m.: McAdams says having virus ‘was quite an ordeal’
Utah Congressman Ben McAdams told “Today" viewers that the coronavirus “hit me really, really hard” and that everyone needs to “take it seriously.”
“It was quite an ordeal,” he said in an interview that aired on the NBC morning program Thursday. “I am doing so much better right now. I’m not quite 100%.”
McAdams, 45, was hospitalized on March 20 when “it got to the point where I couldn’t get up out of bed and walk across the room without being out of breath, without panting, and just needing to sit down and catch my breath.”
During his eight-day hospitalization, he said he had trouble breathing and couldn’t keep his oxygen levels up. He wasn’t on a ventilator, but he did need supplemental oxygen.
“There were a couple of days there that I really didn’t even have the energy to hold up a telephone,” McAdams said. “I was just laying there waiting for the minutes to pass and hoping that my body would have a chance to catch up.”
He’s out of quarantine now and “virus free.” And he’s urging others to stay home and take precautions.
“I’m young. I’m healthy. I have no underlying health conditions. I exercise every day, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “And that would be my message to people today is to take this seriously. You don’t know how this is going to hit you, how it’s going to affect you and what the consequences might be. Even if you are healthy and it is just a bad flu, who might you infect and what impact might it have on them.”
Asked by “Today” anchor Hoda Kotb if a nationwide stay-at-home order should be issued, McAdams didn’t answer directly. He pointed out that Utah doesn’t have a statewide, mandatory shut-down. He again urged people to stay home and limit trips to the grocery store.
— Scott D. Pierce
6:40 a.m.: Last week’s unemployment report was bad. This week’s is far worse.
Utah’s unemployment numbers jumped even further into uncharted territory Thursday, worsening still the state’s already record-breaking surge in workers idled due to the coronavirus.
Fully 28,560 state residents filed jobless claims last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported, compared to 19,690 the week before, which was already quadruple the weekly record set during the Great Recession.
Those Utahns seeking state unemployment help were part of a staggering 6.6 million Americans who did the same for the week ending March 28 — double the number who reported being thrown out of work the week prior.
Almost every U.S. state was attributing some aspect of their weekly job losses to COVID-19, the Labor Department said.
Workers in accommodation and food-service industries remained the worst hit both in Utah and the rest of the country largely due to the effects of social distancing meant to contain the virus.
But more than three weeks into the pandemic, those losses are rapidly spreading to other sectors.
— Tony Semerad