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It’s Wednesday, April 29. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.
[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]
9:45 p.m.: Gov. Herbert’s order places Utah under ‘moderate risk’ instead of ‘high risk’
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has issued an executive order that places the state under “moderate risk” — instead of “high risk” — for spreading the coronavirus.
The move was largely expected after it was announced earlier this week. And it’s part of the state’s plan to reopen some businesses Friday.
“We can now cautiously relax some requirements, and allow businesses that were closed to operate with safety measures in place,” Herbert said in a prepared statement. “If Utahns continue to exercise caution, we can continue flattening the curve and stay below our hospital capacity, while resuming some normalcy in our business and social interactions.”
With the executive order, the state downgrades from a “red” condition of concern to “orange.” Under the category, high-risk individuals — those who are older or immunocompromised — are still asked to stay home.
But outside of that, smaller group gatherings up to 20 people are allowed and gyms and salons may reopen. Dining in at restaurants will also be allowed, though with strict safety measures.
— Courtney Tanner
5:10 p.m.: Virus has claimed seven residents at Highland Cove Retirement Community
Operators at Highland Cove Retirement Community confirmed Wednesday that now seven of its residents have died from the coronavirus.
The assisted living center in Salt Lake City represents the single biggest cluster of deaths reported by any public or private entity in the state. And two of the deaths have come since the facility reported five deaths on Monday.
Additionally, there are at least 19 other infections there, including nine staffers testing positive.
Across the state, 45 people have died from the coronavirus. About half of those have been at nursing homes or long-term care centers.
— Courtney Tanner
3:50 p.m.: Hogle Zoo to reopen to public, with restrictions, Saturday
Hogle Zoo will reopen to the public on Saturday — though there will be restrictions in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of visitors allowed to enter will be limited, according to a news release from the zoo. And tickets must be purchased online prior to visiting. Those tickets will be paid for particular time slots and guests will have to enter during a specified 30-minute window.
"After 50 long days, we are very happy to reopen Utah’s Hogle Zoo to the public,” said Steve Burns, the president and CEO. "In order to keep our guests, staff and animals healthy, we will ask our guests to follow the rules while they are here. Together, we will get to stay open.”
According to the rules set by Salt Lake County, visitors will have to wear face masks at all times, except when eating. The zoo will also have a one-way path designated throughout and expects families to stay 6 feet away from one another. The playgrounds, train and carousel will remain closed.
But the zoo, as a whole, will be open Sunday through Saturday from 9 a.m to 6 p.m.
— Courtney Tanner
3:45 p.m.: Eagle Mountain Chamber of Commerce, Facebook offer grants
The Eagle Mountain Chamber of Commerce has partnered with social media giant Facebook to offer $200,000 in small-business grants to help them cover revenues lost to COVID-19.
Eligible businesses must be located in the city, have 30 employees or less and must demonstrate coronavirus-related income losses incurred since March 1. They must also be chamber members or willing to join if they get a grant.
Grant amounts will be based on need and funds can go to operational costs such as payroll, rent or mortgage payments, utilities or similar expenses. For more details or to apply, go to http://www.eaglemountainchamber.com
Applications are being accepted from today until May 8 and will be vetted by the chamber.
Facebook, which operates a massive data center in Eagle Mountain, recently announced a similar program for small businesses in Utah County affected by COVID-19. The offering of cash grants and ad credits is part of a $100 million global program for small businesses harmed in the pandemic in the 30 countries where the company operates.
More information on Facebook’s small-business aid is available here.
— Tony Semerad
2:50 p.m.: Progressive Leasing donates 100 used laptops to Utah students
A Utah company has donated 100 used laptops to students without technology during the coronavirus pandemic.
Progressive Leasing partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake to determine which students would need a computer to continue their learning with schools closed. The business then collected laptops from across the country.
“We can’t reach the kids if they don’t have the technology,” said LeAnn Saldivar, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, in a prepared statement. “Getting technology into the hands of those who can’t access it at home is paramount to being able to reach and serve kids.”
Progressive Leasing is a Utah subset of Aaron’s, Inc., which is based in Georgia.
— Courtney Tanner
2:50 p.m.: Thanksgiving Point reopening gardens on Friday
With the state lifting restrictions imposed earlier in the pandemic, Thanksgiving Point plans to reopen its gardens on Friday.
Both Ashton Gardens and Farm Country at the Lehi destination will open. The two museums there, though, and the butterfly enclosure will remain closed.
“We aim to carefully provide a place to visit and recharge,” said Mike Washburn, president and CEO of Thanksgiving Point.
The reopening will come with some safety restrictions. Patrons will be required to reserve tickets in advance of visiting. Guests will be limited to align with social distancing practices. And all are encouraged to wear face masks.
— Courtney Tanner
2:45 p.m.: Salt Lake County extends closure of performance venues through June 30
The artistic drought at Salt Lake County’s four performance venues — Abravanel Hall, the Capitol Theatre, Eccles Theatre and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center — will go on into the summer.
Salt Lake County Arts and Culture, the county agency that manages the four venues, announced Wednesday it would extend the coronavirus-mandated closure of the sites through June 30.
With the longer closure, more performances will likely be postponed or canceled, including:
• The touring production of the musical “Anastasia,” June 9-14 at Eccles Theatre.
• The Gina Bachauer 2020 Junior International Piano Competition, set for June 15-18 at the Rose Wagner.
• The Utah Symphony’s performance of the music of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” accompanying the film, June 19-21 at Abravanel Hall.
Following the county’s announcement, Ballet West announced it would postpone its program of “Bolero” and “The Dream,” which had been scheduled to run June 12-20 at the Capitol Theatre.
— Sean P. Means
2:40 p.m.: doTERRA announces $750,000 donation
Utah-based doTERRA is donating $750,000 to support health care workers, first responders and support organizations.
The donation comes less than two weeks after the multilevel marketing company announced a matching campaign linked to proceeds from sales of its Rose Lotion and Shea Butter collections.
That campaign reached its $250,000 goal, and doTERRA tripled that for the $750,000 donation.
“We are humbled by the response of the doTERRA community to help those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Wolfert, doTERRA’s founding executive. “Together, we are finding ways to support the individuals who are working tirelessly to keep us and our loved ones safe.”
The $750,000 will go to support organizations and first responder kits that contain surgical masks, gloves, sanitizer and other items for nurses, doctors and first responders in the United States and Canada.
The Federal Trade Commission recently sent a letter to doTERRA telling it to stop marketing of products by “business opportunity participants or representatives” as coronavirus cures and preventatives. Nine other multilevel marketing businesses also were sent letters.
— Scott D. Pierce
2:20 p.m.: Salt Lake City police officer has tested positive for the coronavirus
A Salt Lake City police officer has tested positive for the coronavirus, the department said Wednesday, and 30 other police employees have been quarantined in their homes.
Police officials said Wednesday that the police officer who tested positive is “not a first responder,” but did not release any details about the person’s health condition or what type of policing they are involved in.
The department was notified on Monday that the officer had tested positive, and has been working since then to conduct contact tracing.
“The health and safety of our officers and the community is our first priority,” said Chief Mike Brown.
“SLCPD started early on to put policies in place for the protection of our employees against this virus," he added. "Since learning of this confirmed case, we are cleaning and disinfecting the facilities the employee used. We have planned ahead for such an event and feel confident in telling you that we will continue to have enough officers to perform the tasks that we have to accomplish.”
— Jessica Miller
2:05 p.m.: Vulnerable residents must remain cautious, state epidemiologist notes
As Utah starts to move toward an orange, or moderate, risk level for most residents, there are still people who need to practice extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Wednesday.
People over age 65, people in long-term care facilities and people with underlying medical conditions should still stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing, she said.
“If you’re someone who cares for an individual in these high-risk groups, it’s important for you to protect yourself from COVID-19 as well,” Dunn said.
Dunn said the state is prepared for a possible uptick in cases as the state begins to reopen. Whenever officials start lifting restrictions in the middle of an outbreak, she said, the community has to prepare for a surge.
“It’s always a possibility," she said.
Dunn said the state has been balancing controlling the virus and protecting the economy. Health officials do that through contact tracing and testing to identity hot spots and control them, she said.
The state will keep an eye on hospital capacities and the effectiveness of contact tracing and testing, she said, and those metrics will determine whether Utah may begin adding restrictions again.
State intervention could occur if hospitals are being overburdened, in one example, or if contact tracers are finding many cases that reflect community spread but can’t identify the source of the infection, she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced three new possible symptoms of COVID-19, which are not included in Utah’s current list of six symptoms that indicate residents should be tested. The new symptoms are headache, chills and rigors, which is shaking with chills.
Since the CDC requires two symptoms for testing and Utah only requires one, Dunn said, she’s “confident that we’re not missing anybody who should be tested.”
She said the state would evaluate its criteria, but for now there are no plans to change.
Asked about outbreaks at long-term care centers, Dunn said when residents of Utah nursing homes die from COVID-19, “there’s not really a need from a public health standpoint to notify everyone” of the name of the facility.
Releasing a facility name would “be akin to us announcing the address of any of our individuals who died," she said.
Dunn also said the state has no plans to close borders to visitors, saying it’s not necessary and has unintended consequences. It can prevent families from seeing each other and can stop the flow of goods.
"We don’t think that that is a need right now,” Dunn said.
— Paighten Harkins
1:55 p.m.: Utah Division of Motor Vehicles to reopen lobby service by appointment only
After weeks of waits of up to six hours for its drive-up service, the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen lobby service at five of its largest and busiest offices on Friday — by appointment only.
“We hope that as we enter our busy time of year that this will assist some of the individuals that can’t get their renewals done timely,” said Monte Roberts, director of the department, during a news conference.
Lobby service initially will be available at five DMV offices in Ogden, Farmington, Salt Lake City, Draper and Provo. Schedules and services for other state and county DMV offices is listed at dmv.utah.gov. Appointments may also be made at that website.
With the return of lobby service, what had been extended hours for drive-up operations will return to normal — Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Roberts said people arriving with appointments will be treated like those with a Fast Pass at Disneyland — and will be served quickly — while others showing up unexpectedly will be helped to make an appointment, and may need to return later.
“You can make an appointment before you show up or we can assist you with make an appointment when you show up,” he said. “If you already have an appointment, then all we have to do is check you in.”
Appointments may be made for title and registration, disabled placards, impound release, revoked registration, insurance reinstatement and other urgent-need transactions.
Where possible, Roberts said the state still encourages residents to handle renewals online — or at on-the-spot emissions testing centers that also can provide registration decals.
He said the department asks all visitors to wear face masks, and to follow social distancing rules.
Roberts said Gov. Gary Herbert is also preparing an executive order that will give people an extra two weeks to finish renewal of vehicle registration.
— Lee Davidson
1:40 p.m.: Utah takes steps to help veterans during outbreak
Utah’s Department of Veterans and Military is still offering services to veterans, even though some physical offices are closed, Executive Director Gary Harter said at a news conference Wednesday.
As offices close, he said, the office is offering virtual benefits and claims appointments for veterans.
The department also is working to alert certain veterans — those who have dependents and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 — that they must register with the IRS at IRS.gov by Tuesday, May 5, to receive a stimulus check, he said.
He said those without dependents, or who have already received checks, do not need to register.
None of the more than 400 residents living at veterans’ nursing homes across the state have tested positive for COVID-19, Harter said. Those facilities have been closed to visitors since March 12.
But the coronavirus has “drastically” impacted the military community, especially reservist and National Guard members who aren’t able to train and drill, according to a survey of 2,700 veterans and active military members veterans in Utah, he said.
The survey also found that 40% of working veterans have lost hours at work or been laid off or furloughed. It showed that 11% of respondents needed financial assistance to pay bills.
Harter said the department is working with Salt Lake Community College, the governor’s office and others to help veteran-owned business that are struggling.
About 30% of survey takers said the pandemic has impacted their mental health. Harter said his department is working with veterans’ organizations to address mental health. Veterans Affairs providers have “ramped up” their telehealth capabilities, he added.
Those looking for help or more information can visit veterans.utah.gov.
— Paighten Harkins
1:10 p.m.: Utah reports 152 new cases, no new deaths
The Utah Department of Health reported no new deaths Wednesday from COVID-19, but the number of confirmed cases jumped to 4,495 — up 152 cases from Tuesday.
According to Wednesday’s report, 105,778 people have been tested for the coronavirus — 3,339 of them since Tuesday’s tally.
There have been 13 more people hospitalized because of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 383.
— Paighten Harkins
12:40 p.m.: Roots Charter High School needs volunteer farm help
Roots Charter High School is seeking volunteers.
Workers are needed to cover soil at the farm with cardboard and organic mulch to keep away weeds, according to the West Valley City school’s newsletter.
“This process keeps the weeds down, keeps the moisture in the soil, adds nutrients, and contributes to our long-term goals of greater soil health,” it says “It is also time-consuming work and we need volunteers who are willing to come out and help with this process.”
Roots, Utah’s first farm-based charter high school, also is asking for help with weeding garden beds, spreading compost, feeding and watering animals and planting seeds. To volunteer, email Nysse Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who can't offer physical labor can help by participating in the school's plant sale on May 7 and 8. Order here. Sign up here by May 1 for the Roots Flower Bouquet CSA, to receive weekly fresh bouquets for six or 12 weeks.
— Zoi Walker
12:15 p.m.: Utah Opera turns costume fabric into face masks
Six sewers in Utah Opera’s costume shop have been using their talents to make cloth face masks for health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The team has made 400 general-protection masks so far for Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. They also have made several hundred stretch extenders, which are used across the back of the head to cut down on the discomfort of elastic hooked around the ears.
The masks are made of cotton and muslin fabric, remnants from the costumes from Utah Opera’s January 2019 production of “The Little Prince.”
Verona Green, Utah Opera’s costume director, said in a statement, “in this uncertain world where it is hard to know what to do to help, a simple mask is becomes a positive gift that things will get better.”
The costumers also have constructed 700 medical-grade masks for health care workers, using the kits provided as part of the Project Protect program, a statewide volunteer effort organized by Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Utah Opera has been shuttered since March, when the coronavirus pandemic started hitting the state. The company canceled productions of “The Barber of Seville” in March and “Thaïs” in May.
— Sean P. Means
11:45 a.m.: Utah State Parks adds new restrictions
Big crowds at Utah’s state parks are leading to new restrictions. But the parks remain open to people who are willing to wait for a parking spot and keep a distance from others seeking to enjoy Utah’s natural places.
“We’re committed to maintaining the health and wellness of our staff and visitors,” Jeff Rasmussen, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, said in a news release. “After last weekend, it’s evident that a few changes are necessary to increase safety and social distancing at our busiest parks.”
Visitor capacity at popular parks is now limited to the number of parking spaces available. State parks are also partnering with law enforcement and the Utah Highway Patrol to enforce these parking restrictions parking restrictions at certain parks in southern Utah.
Primitive camping will now be closed or reduced at high traffic parks and there will be more law enforcement and staff present inside the parks to encourage social distancing. Park manager will update capacity estimates on each park’s social media page and website throughout the weekend.
“We all play a role in keeping each other safe and healthy” said Rasmussen. “We hope these changes contribute to a better visitor experience, and we ask those coming to state parks to do their part and practice responsible recreation.”
The state is encouraging Utahns to visit during weekends or non-peak times when possible. Information is available at stateparks.utah.gov.
— Zoi Walker
11:10 a.m.: High West Distillery and six other Utah spirit producers approved to make hand sanitizer
High West Distillery, best known for making rye and bourbon whiskies, was one of six Utah companies to get a license from the state to make medical-grade hand sanitizer.
On Wednesday, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control granted the industrial manufacturing licenses, which will allow the companies to buy the nonconsumable ethanol needed to make the gels that hospitals, businesses and, soon, restaurants and bars will need to continue operating during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wanship distillery is the seventh Utah spirit producer to add sanitizer to its production menu. Others include Alpine Distilling, Park City; Ogden’s Own Distillery, Ogden; Outlaw Distillery, Sandy; and Hammer Spring Distillers, Salt Flats Spirits, and Sugar House Distillery, all in Salt Lake City.
Several other companies that use alcohol to produce vitamin supplements or medical products also received licenses to make sanitizer from the state liquor commission during Wednesday’s emergency meeting.
They include Health Line Medical Products, a surgical supply company in Salt Lake City; Soap Creek Manufacturing, a body care company in Ephraim; Vitalpax, a supplement company in La Verkin; Wasatch Pharmacy Care, a pharmacy in Ogden; and Western Botanicals, a manufacturer of herbal supplements in Spanish Fork.
Liquor commissioner Sophia DiCaro expressed appreciation to the companies for “providing something that is needed in the community,” especially in some of the rural, underserved areas of the state.
DABC officials said they have received at least a dozen more applications from similar companies wanting to make the product.
— Kathy Stephenson
11 a.m.: Salt Lake County issues new guidelines for businesses and residents as state begins to reopen
Salt Lake County leaders issued new guidance for businesses and residents Wednesday as the state begins to lift restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The recommendations largely mirror Gov. Gary Herbert’s plan to move from a red “high risk” level, as described in his Utah Leads Together 2.0 Plan, to an orange, or moderate, risk level. However, Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards said the county will be more strict — requiring masks in some cases, while the statewide plan only recommends them, for example.
The new health order will carry the force of law, but county leaders said they hope residents will choose to comply voluntarily. And if data shows the reopening is increasing the number of infections, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the county will make changes quickly to protect public health.
“I do believe we’ll see some benefit on the economic side but for me health is still the priority,” she said of the changes.
Even as the state begins to reopen, leaders encouraged residents to continue practicing social distancing, not to go anywhere if they’re feeling ill and to wash their hands often.
“Social distancing and other common sense disease prevention measures must continue as we enter this new phase,” Edwards said. “We still need to stay home as much as possible. If you feel sick, you must stay home. If you’re an older person or a person with underlying medical conditions that put you at higher risk, you’re still in the red category. You stay home.”
Here’s a rundown of some of the new requirements:
• Restaurants: Curbside pickup and delivery are still encouraged, Edwards said during a streamed news conference on Wednesday. But food services will be allowed to open up with some new requirements, including that employees and customers wear face coverings “except when actively dining,” he said.
Customer groups will be limited to six people, and those who are waiting and dining must maintain a six foot social distance from those in different households. Children’s play areas inside and outside of restaurants must remain closed.
• Service industries: Personal service businesses like hair and nail salons, day spas and massage and tanning parlors are allowed to operate by appointment only and with daily symptom checking of employees. Employees and customers must wear face coverings and work stations need to be at least six feet apart.
• Gyms and fitness centers: Employees and clients must wear face masks, though a customer could remove a face covering while engaged in “heavy physical activity,” Edwards said.
Guidance for social distancing in gyms and fitness centers is 10 feet of distance in workout areas and employees are required to disinfect equipment after each use. Lap pools can have one swimmer per lane and recreation pools can not exceed 50% of their capacity. Hot tubs will not be allowed to operate in this phase.
• Cultural entertainment and sports venues: Six feet of separation is the standard guideline and establishments must work to monitor the number of guests entering and congregating. Seating must maintain a 10 foot separation between household groups.
Reserved-seating facilities with stage performers should keep at least three empty seats between individuals or family groups in each row, at least two vacant rows between occupied rows, and the first five rows should be left vacant in auditoriums where performers sing or speak toward the audience.
• Social interactions: Gatherings are limited to groups of 20 or fewer while still maintaining social distancing. Small groups of families and friends who are not ill may attend funerals, weddings and religious ceremonies. People are asked to continue prioritizing virtual interactions over in-person ones and to work remotely where possible.
— Taylor Stevens
10:50 a.m.: One kit helps support 6 Utah food producers
Six Utah food producers get help with a purchase of one “artisan support pack” available online at Caputo’s Market and Deli.
The latest kit features items for the pantry, including Chili Beak oil, Solstice chocolate, Zursun pearl barley, Hollow Tree honey, Bar Daddy tonic syrup and Bitters Lab cocktail bitters. Some not-so-local olives round out the box, which costs $64.99 and includes free shipping. You can order here.
This is the third kit the Salt Lake City market has assembled to help support small producers struggling during the coronavirus shutdown, according to owner Matt Caputo.
Previous packs have featured everything from gourmet salami and cheese to polenta. Once this edition is sold, a new pack with different items will be assembled, so check back regularly.
— Kathy Stephenson
10:40 a.m.: LHM Group companies launching weeklong food drive across Utah
The Larry H. Miller Group is launching a weeklong food drive across Utah, to help fill the Utah Food Bank’s shelves and help people suffering food insecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Driven to Assist” campaign will run Thursday through the following Wednesday, May 6, at 22 Larry H. Miller auto dealerships, 13 Megaplex Theatres locations, the park plaza in front of Vivint Smart Home Arena, and the parking lot north of Smith’s Ballpark.
Drive-thru drop-offs will be available for people to make donations, between 2 and 6 p.m. (except Sunday). LHM Group employees will staff the locations, wearing face masks and observing social distancing and sanitation practices recommended by the Utah Department of Health.
For those who donate at least 8 cans of food (or equivalent value), the companies will provide “thank you for the assist” gifts:
• At LHM auto dealers, a $10 coupon for a lube, oil and filter exchange at any Utah dealership.
• At Megaplex Theatres, a large tub of freshly popped popcorn, delivered through the company’s curbside service.
• At Smith’s Ballpark, a voucher for two tickets to a Salt Lake Bees game (once the baseball season finally starts).
• At Vivint Smart Home Arena, $10 in online credit at the Utah Jazz Team Store.
Donations must be non-perishable food, with an emphasis on canned goods. Among the items most in demand: Peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned meats, chili, canned pasta, canned fruit, and boxed meals.
— Sean P. Means
10:30 a.m.: SLC ranked least economically vulnerable to pandemic-related damage, according to study
Salt Lake City ranks as the least economically vulnerable to pandemic-related damage among 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, a new analysis suggests.
A study by online lending site LendingTree finds that Utah’s capital city has a relatively diverse economy compared to others and a lower concentration of businesses in vulnerable industries such as retail, hospitality and entertainment.
The analysis, based on 2017 Census data, estimates that of the city’s nearly 33,247 business establishments, 6,518 of them — or 19.6% — fall into one of the categories most at risk from social distancing and stay-at-home decrees.
That put Salt Lake City last on a vulnerability ranking of 100 major U.S. cities. Denver ranked 99th, with an at-risk share of 19.7%, while Provo came in at 82nd, with an estimated 22.2% of its business establishments in those at-risk industry groups.
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina ranked as the most vulnerable in LendingTree’s analysis, followed by Salisbury, Md.; Scranton, Pa.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.
— Tony Semerad
10:17 a.m.: Two Utah companies produce and distribute thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer
A pair of Utah companies, USANA and Dynamic Blending, teamed up to produce more than 28,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, which will be donated to hospitals and police and fire departments in Salt Lake in Summit Counties.
Donations will also be made to local UPS and FedEx distribution centers and the Navajo Nation. And the 8-ounce containing an 80% alcohol solution that is isopropyl-free were handed out at USANA’s headquarters in West Valley City on Wednesday.
“While most of us are able to work from home, there are those on the front lines risking their health to provide care, security, and goods for us all,” said USANA president Jim Brown in a statement. “We want to do our part to say thank you.”
“We are so pleased to partner with USANA to provide sanitizer to those most in need,” added Dynamic Blending president Jordan Erskine.
— Scott D. Pierce
10 a.m.: Intermountain sets up bins for donated cloth masks
People who sew homemade cloth face masks can now donate their handiwork at Intermountain Healthcare locations across Utah.
Intermountain has set up donation bins at 27 Utah hospitals and clinics, from Logan to St. George (as well as Cassia Regional Hospital in Burley, Idaho).
The cloth masks will be used by visitors and non-frontline health care workers. Not only will the cloth masks help keep their users safe, they will let Intermountain “ensure we’re saving our medical-grade personal protective equipment for frontline caregivers,” John Wright, Intermountain’s vice president of supply chain, said in a statement.
Donated masks will be laundered and sanitized, then shipped to where they’re most needed, according to Intermountain.
Cloth masks are used to catch droplets of moisture expelled when the wearer coughs, sneezes or exhales. Based on recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, wearing a mask is recommended for anyone going out in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — along with social distancing and proper hand-washing.
— Sean P. Means
8:44 a.m.: Judge orders two Utah firms to stop selling ‘fraudulent’ COVID-19 treatment
Washington • A federal judge has ordered two Utah companies and their owner to halt the sale of a “fraudulent” treatment for COVID-19 and the coronavirus.
The Justice Department had filed for an injunction against Gordon Pedersen of Cedar Hills and his companies, My Doctor Suggests LLC and GP Silver LLC, for ”fraudulently promoting and selling various silver products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.”
The U.S. District Court for Utah has barred the companies from selling or distributing their silver products for the treatment of any disease, including COVID-19, and also freezes the companies’ assets.
“Even in a time of great uncertainty, there are at least two unchanging realities. There are those who would unlawfully exploit our vulnerabilities, and there are those who will hold such parties accountable,” said U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber. “COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, and American consumers must have accurate and reliable information as they make important health decisions.”
The Justice Department has filed for injunctions against multiple companies who have touted unproven and unapproved medicine or other remedies to combat the coronavirus or COVID-19.
“The Department of Justice will take swift action to protect consumers from those who would recklessly exploit this public health crisis by offering phony cure-alls for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt. “We work closely with our partners at the Food and Drug Administration and will move quickly to shut down schemes that promote and sell unlawful products during this pandemic.”
The Justice Department complaint against the Utah companies alleges that they “conducted a scheme to defraud consumers throughout the United States, promoting and selling silver products based on fraudulent claims of protection against, and treatment for, COVID-19.”
The complaint adds that the “defendants have made a wide variety of false and misleading claims touting silver products as a preventative for COVID-19, including that having silver in the bloodstream will ‘usher’ any coronavirus out of the body and that ‘it has been proven that Alkaline Structured Silver will destroy all forms of viruses, it will protect people from the Coronavirus.’”
Court filings do not list an attorney for Pedersen or the companies involved.
— Thomas Burr
7:44 a.m.: Costco will require its customers to wear face masks
Beginning Monday, all Costco customers must wear face masks or they won’t be allowed in stores.
The company announced that, effective May 4, all members of the warehouse club must wear a “mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times while at Costco.” Children under the age of 2 and people who are “unable to wear a mask … due to a medical condition” will be exempted.
The company warned that masks “should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing.”
Costco also is restricting the number of people who will be allowed to enter its stores to two per membership card.
— Scott D. Pierce