Live coronavirus updates for Saturday, April 4: Trump approves Utah’s disaster declaration; Colorado woman and son rescued while hiking in Emery County

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A sign at the Airborne Trampoline Arena in Draper reads, "Stay Strong Utah," on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

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It’s Saturday, April 4. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]


5:50 p.m.: Utah’s disaster declaration approved by President Trump

President Donald Trump approved Utah’s disaster declaration, making funding available for emergency protective measures to combat the coronavirus.

Gov. Gary Herbert sent a request to Trump for the disaster funding Tuesday. Trump announced the approval in a Saturday news release.

The funds will go toward state, tribal and some local governments, in addition to some nonprofit organizations, according to the release.

If needed, the state can request additional funds.

— Paighten Harkins

4 p.m.: Colorado woman and son rescued while hiking in Emery County

A Colorado woman and her son had to be rescued after they went off trail Friday in the Bell and Little Wildhorse canyons-area in Emery County.

While the pair were OK, the rescue prompted Emery County Sheriff’s Office to urge would-be visitors to stay at home.

“Our rescuers and first responders respond professionally and rapidly without thinking of their own safety. They are trained to serve and protect,” according to post on the office’s Facebook page. “Please do your part to help keep them safe by following the orders and directives that are in place.”

The woman told police that while Colorado is under a stay at home order and Utah had issued a similar directive, she thought she could come and hike as long as she didn’t stay overnight.

The sheriff’s office disagreed, saying in the post that it urged people to follow guidance from elected officials “without trying to bend the rules or find loopholes.”

The sheriff’s office added in a news release on Saturday that people from Utah and elsewhere are camping throughout the San Rafael Swell-area when they shouldn’t be.

“This is putting our first responders in a bad position, potentially exposing them to COVID-19 while performing the duties that they are bound to perform,” according to a news release. “We really wish people would follow the directives and orders.”

— Paighten Harkins

1:25 p.m.: Latest Utah COVID-19 death is 85-year, or older woman in a SLC nursing home, which now has eight confirmed cases

A resident of a Salt Lake City nursing home added to Utah’s coronavirus-related death count Saturday, bringing the total to eight. The woman was 85 or older.

The Utah Department of Health is declining to name the nursing home the woman was living at. A spokesperson said it is unknown how she contracted the virus.

The woman, who died Thursday, was one of six residents and two staff members in the facility to test positive for COVID-19. The first patient to be hospitalized was admitted March 27. Three residents are currently hospitalized with the virus.

According to a UDOH news release, all remaining residents are isolated in their rooms. The 34-bed nursing home will become a COVID-19 only facility with residents who test negative for the virus being moved to another facility.

It had been three days since the last deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state. Two people died on Wednesday because of the virus.

More deaths are likely on the way, however, as diagnosed cases continue to grow. The most recent numbers released by the UDOH show a spike in cases in Utah County over the past two days. The only county along the Wasatch Front without a stay-at-home order, it now has 186 cases and 12 hospitalizations. That is a 77 percent increase from the 105 cases, and 11 hospitalizations, reported Thursday.

Salt Lake County saw the most cases adding 109 more cases and eight new hospitalizations to its tally. That was an increase of 36.5% for a total of 650 cases. Davis County saw a 33% increase in cases for a total of 137. Summit County, meanwhile, the first in the state to issue a stay-at-home order, saw a jump of 12% with eight more cases, bringing its current total to 230.

— Julie Jag

12:25 p.m.: Eighth Utahn, dies from COVID-19, confirmed cases in state up to 1,428

Utah suffered another coronavirus-related death Saturday, bringing the total to eight.

It had been three days since the last deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state. Two people died on Wednesday because of the virus.

The total diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the state rose by 182 on Saturday to 1,428, a new high. Of those, 117 have been hospitalized. That’s nine more hospitalizations than Friday.

Saturday’s coronavirus victim was an 85-year-old woman who resided in a Salt Lake City nursing home. Health department officials declined to name the nursing home. They said they do not know how she contracted the virus.

— Julie Jag

10:20 a.m.: Lake Powell’s boat ramps will close to the public beginning Monday

Lake Powell’s boat ramps will be closed to the public starting Monday evening due to coronavirus concerns.

The National Parks Service announced late Friday that it would be closing the ramps accessed through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The measure is being taken in part to “provide resource protection by mitigating the risk of quagga mussel contamination to other bodies of water,” according to a press release.

Glen Canyon comprises 1.25 million acres around the lake, stretching across Utah and Arizona.

Lake Powell’s dining, lodging, camping, boat rentals and tours all closed to the public last Monday. The closure of the ramps will last until Utah Gov. Gary Herbert lifts his stay-at-home directive or until health officials deem ramp operations can be done under current CDC social-distancing guidelines.

Owners of boats in the marinas will have access to those vessels but will not be able to travel into the lake’s waters. Some shoreline will remain open for swimming, fishing and water recreation.

— Julie Jag

8:45 a.m.: Delta ‘burning more than $60M in cash every day’

Even with a congressional bailout and tens of thousands of its employees volunteering for furloughs, Delta Air Lines — which had provided 73% of the flights from Salt Lake City International Airport — is hemorrhaging cash and fighting to survive.

“Those funds alone are not nearly enough,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote about federal bailout funds in an email to workers on Friday. “We are expecting our revenue in the second quarter to be down 90%. Without the self-help actions we are taking to save costs and raise new financing, that money would be gone by June.”

He noted that Delta just closed the books on its first quarter that he said was unlike any in its history because of COVID-19. “We know that the second quarter will be even more difficult than the first as the pandemic continues to evolve.”

Bastian said Delta “is burning more than $60 million in cash every day” and that it has yet to hit bottom.

"We continue to shrink our network as demand falls and will operate just enough flying to maintain essential services,” he wrote. “This month our schedule will be at least 80% smaller than originally planned, with 115,000 flights canceled. I wish I could predict this would end soon, but the reality is we simply don’t know how long it will take.”

He thanked the 30,000 Delta workers who have volunteered to take unpaid leaves of absence. “We continue to need more volunteers, and this week announced longer-term opportunities of leaves lasting six, nine and 12 months. Please consider whether a short- or long-term leave makes sense for you and your family at this time.”

With flight schedules reduced by 80%, Bastian said a “25% short-term reduction in hours for both merit and hourly ground-based employees is essential to protecting Delta for the long term.”

He said the airline also is “saving billions of dollars in cash by pausing capital projects, consolidating airport facilities, delaying nonessential maintenance and reviewing every expense across the operation.”

Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City International Airport, said last week that, for now, the airport is proceeding as planned with the first phase of a $4.1 billion project to build, essentially, a new airport adjacent to existing facilities. It is scheduled to open Sept. 15 — but what happens after that with later phases is murky.

Fees from airlines will pay for most of that expansion. The airlines and the airport are committed to start paying on bonds used to obtain money for construction soon, so Wyatt said he does not believe that much would be gained by delaying at this point.

— Lee Davidson