Live coronavirus updates for Saturday, April 18: Close to 1,000 attend Utah Business Revival rally; two more Utahns die of COVID-19

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) About 1,000 people protested the government mandated shutdown of businesses on the grounds of Salt Lake City Hall, Saturday. The protest was organized by Utah Business Revival aimed at Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and Governor Gary Herbert policies on COVID-19 and social distancing, April 18, 2020.

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It’s Saturday, April 18. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]


7:10 p.m.: Crowd breaks out in song after march to Capitol building

Once the Utah Business Revival crowd reached the Utah State Capitol building, it was time to sing. First up was “God Bless America,” which was followed by the “Star Spangled Banner.”

— Paighten Harkins

(Paighten Harkins | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Utah Business Revival rally turned into a march to the Utah State Capitol building, where the crowd sang "God Bless America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" on Saturday, April 18, 2020,

6:33 p.m.: Utah Business Revival crowd begins to march

Those attending the Utah Business Revival rally have begun to march across the street and in the direction of the Utah State Capitol building.

One person in a car could be heard saying, “You’re idiots. Go home.” A passing truck driver yelled out, “Morons,” to which ralliers responded, “Freedom, morons!”

— Paighten Harkins

6 p.m.: Crowd chanting “Go back to work”

Lady Maga, America’s Conservative Drag Superstar! according to her Twitter profile, is also at the Utah Business Revival rally, decked out in a white dress and a pink bonnet and looking Betsy Ross chic. She’s carrying a sign that reads “Get back to werk.”

And now the crowd, now estimated at closer to 1,000, begins to chant, “Go back to work.”

— Paighten Harkins

(Paighten Harkins \ The Salt Lake Tribune) Lady Maga was at the Utah Business Revival rally Saturday, April 18, 2020, wearing a white dress and a pink bonnet.

5:35 p.m.: Speaker at rally calls COVID-19 a “plandemic” created in a U.S. lab

One speaker at Saturday’s Utah Business Revival rally says COVID-19 was created by the USA in a lab. He calls it a “plandemic.”

Lots of people have been getting real close to each other while trying to hear the speakers, and at least one person in the crowd is carrying a billowing American flag.

There’s still the sound of car horns honking, from those who preferred to remain in their vehicles.

Some people holding a long sign that reads “Get back to work!” have been standing on the steps for at least 30 minutes.

Libertarian activist Ammon Bundy is at the rally.

— Paighten Harkins

5:20 p.m. Rally organizer says he wants people to get back to work

Utah Business Revival rally organizer Eric Moutsos is speaking now. He started off by showing a cloth mask his mom made him (navy blue with stars). Says he brought it but isn’t gonna wear it.

Moutsos says small business is the backbone of the country and he wants people to get back to work.

Moutsos also spoke out against people telling on their neighbors and others for gathering. Says people don’t do that in this country.

He thanks everyone for being here and as he ends his short statement, people start cheering “USA USA USA.”

— Paighten Harkins

5:05 p.m.: Hundreds takes part in Utah Business Revival rally

A crowd of people estimated at a few hundred is at the start of the Utah Business Revival rally in front of the city county building.

Rally organizers asked people who didn’t want to be outside with others to circle the park and honk — and based on the sound, there are some people going that route.

Rally organizers also encouraged participants to give people 7 feet of space if they wanted it. Looks like there are quite a few groups that are staying to themselves. Some in masks, but many not. From where I’m standing, looks like most are not.

One woman was seen carrying a sign that read, “All jobs are essential” as she greeted someone with an elbow tap.

One groupplanted a “We are peacablely assembled” sign around their gathering, where they were eating. There’s also a “Trump Tater”, aka a person in a big potato suit with Donald Trump hair and a tie, asking people to be a “tater not a hater.”

Someone reading the bill of rights over a megaphone received no claps for the first amendment, but the second amendment got some love. Amendment 5 also got some cheers, especially the “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” part.

— Paighten Harkins

4:30 p.m.: Long wait for visitors to Antelope Island State Park

On Friday Gov. Gary Herbert opened half of Utah’s state parks to all Utahns regardless of their county of residence. The next day, a mile-long line of cars back up at the gate to Antelope Island State Park, filled with epidemic-weary people eager to enjoy pleasant spring weather in the Wasatch Front’s largest snow-free public lands destination.

The Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation had previously closed its 44 parks to residents living in a county other than where the parks are located. The goal was to promote the governor’s “stay safe, stay home” directive, which asked Utahns to recreate only in their home counties to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to a Facebook post at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, park visitors were met with a 40- to-45-minute wait to drive onto Antelope Island, Utah’s largest state park with 45 miles of trails and plenty of shoreline to explore. The Great Salt Lake island is located in Davis County, but is within an hour’s drive of a million more Utahns in neighboring Salt Lake and Weber counties.

The post indicates that biting gnats have hatched on the island.

“You’ll want a head net if you decide to venture out onto the trails,” the post said.

Some state parks will remain closed to out-of-county residents if they are located in counties where local health departments and county commissions issued certain limits on recreational use of public lands. These include parks in Carbon, Emery, Grand, Wasatch, Summit, Uintah, San Juan, Garfield and Kane counties.

These counties are home to half the state’s park, including some of its most popular, like Dead Horse Point, Wasatch Mountain, Jordanelle and Kodachrome Basin.

Visitor centers remained closed at six parks, but campgrounds are all open.

— Brian Maffly

12:50 p.m.: Two more Utahns die of COVID-19; number of positive cases jumps to 2,931. Nearly 60,000 have now been tested.

State public health officials recorded two more coronavirus deaths Saturday, bringing Utah’s total count to 25 people whose lives were cut short by COVID-19.

In numbers released Saturday by the Utah Department of Health, new cases grew by 126, bringing the total caseload to 2,931. Nearly 600 of these patients have recovered.

The numbers of new cases is in line with the numbers reported in the past few days. Meanwhile the number of hospitalizations increased by seven, to 251.

More than half the coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among Salt Lake County residents, including one of the two most recents deaths, a man over age 60, according to the Health Department.

The other fatality was a woman, also older than 60, in Utah County who died in a hospital, but it was unknown if she had underlying health conditions.

The number of people in Utah tested for virus climbed by more than 4,000 to nearly 60,000 since pandemic started.

— Brian Maffly

11:25 a.m.: Herbert signs bill which creates framework for opening state economy

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Saturday signed legislation passed during this past week’s special session that create a framework for the next step in opening the state’s economy as the coronavirus epidemic eases.

SB3004, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, charges the commission with balancing economic concerns with public health and to offer “reasonable guidelines” under which health care providers could resume providing elective surgeries and procedures and restaurants could return to normal operations, albeit with modifications.

Upon signing the bill, Herbert said the bill underscores the importance of the Legislature’s participation in helping craft the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

“This bill formalizes [lawmakers'] role through the establishment of a commission, which will make recommendations on steps to incrementally reopen Utah’s economy in a way that protects public health and safety,” the governor said Saturday. "I look forward to reviewing the commission’s recommendations, which will, in large measure, focus on implementation of the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan, and work in concert with recommendations from the Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force.”

The governor’s appointments to the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission include: General Jefferson Burton, as the designee of the Utah Department of Health; Brian Dunn, CEO of Steward Health care, representing the for-profit hospital system; Michael Good, CEO of the University of Utah Health System, representing the not-for-profit hospital system; Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce; Salt Lake City business leader Mark Bouchard, formerly a senior managing director with the real estate consulting firm CBRE.

The commission — made up of a state health department representative, four members appointed by the governor and four more members, including the chair, appointed by legislative leaders — will have to present its proposed guidelines to Herbert by April 22, four days from now. He will then have to either implement them or explain why he didn’t by month’s end.Meetings of the commission that take place during a public health emergency will not be open to the public.

— Brian Maffly

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