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It’s Wednesday, May 6. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]

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6:55 p.m.: Utah County fair on hold until next year

Utah County is putting its county fair on hold until next year.

The county commission issued a statement Wednesday evening noting the decision was based on the pandemic.

“Our inability to plan for large events, along with uncertain revenue projections in our TRCC funding, have forced us to make this difficult decision,” the commissioners wrote.

Tourism, Recreation, Culture and Convention, or TRCC, funding comes from taxes on restaurants. Those businesses have taken a hit as county health departments work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Utah County fair is usually held in mid-August each year.

— Leia Larsen

6:05 p.m.: Glen Canyon, Gunlock adjusting coronavirus strategies

Two southern Utah parks are adjusting their coronavirus response strategies as restrictions begin to lift in the state.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Powell, will allow the public to use launch ramps at Bullfrog and Wahweap every Friday through Sunday starting May 8. Restrooms at the facilities will also reopen. Lake Powell ramps closed more than a month ago due to the pandemic and fears about boats spreading invasive quagga mussels. Campgrounds and trails at the park reopened May 1.

Meanwhile, state park officials have shut off the falls at Gunlock State Park near St. George due to crowding. The park remains open, but the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation urges visitors to practice safe social distancing. Park managers also encourage the public to visit on weekdays or during non-peak hours and to recreate at parks that are close to home.

Falls form at Gunlock when water spills over the park’s dam. Instead, park managers will release water from the base of the dam. The change will not impact flows in the Santa Clara River according to a press release.

— Leia Larsen

5:45 p.m.: Governor tries to end confusion over ‘moderate’ status

Gov. Gary Herbert has issued some clarifications about businesses and fitness activities after confusion arising from his decision to move Utah from “high” to “moderate” risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor now advises those playing sports to avoid activities that bring teammates closer than 10 feet apart. Gyms should follow the same 10-foot distancing rule. People receiving personal care services like facials or waxing can remove their face mask if it interferes.

Private gatherings “without oversight by a formal organization” should include no more than 20 people.

“I am grateful to all Utahns who take these public health recommendations seriously,” Herbert said in a press release. “We still need to be extremely cautious in the moderate-risk phase, and much of that caution will carry into the low-risk phase as well. Following these guidelines is crucial to ensuring the safety and health of all Utahns.”

The Governor’s Office said it needed to issue those extra guidelines after getting numerous questions from the public. The state officially entered the “moderate” or orange phase of the Utah Leads Together economic plan on May 1. The plan is intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Even under the “moderate” phase, the governor encourages Utah residents to stay home as much as possible.

— Leia Larsen

4:55 p.m.: $40 million in grants now available for small businesses

Money made available by the U.S. government and Utah lawmakers for rental assistance to small businesses damaged by COVID-19-related public health orders is now available, officials announced Wednesday.

SB3006, signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert on April 30, sets aside $40 million for grants to Utah businesses, nonprofits, independent contractors and the self-employed, using money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act.

The grants, which will be overseen by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will be for up to $10,000, with exact amounts based on applicants’ losses in gross revenues and whether they have received separate loans through the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Businesses and nonprofits can apply at http://coronavirus.utah.gov, beginning on Monday, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Send questions about the program to rentalgrant@utah.gov(opens in new tab).

— Tony Semerad

3:40 p.m.: Virtual town hall set for Thursday on ‘COVID-19 and its impact within the Black Community’

Utahns can attend a virtual town hall Thursday evening about “COVID-19 and its impact within the Black Community” through Facebook Live and Zoom.

The discussion, scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., includes panelists Rep. Sandra Hollins, Dr. Krow Ampofo and the Rev. Dr. Oscar T. Moses. The event is hosted by the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission, Salt Lake County and Utah Black Chamber.

The coronavirus pandemic to be more lethal and spread faster among communities of color in Utah, according to state data.

— Becky Jacobs

2:30 p.m.: UTA offers free masks on Thursday

The Utah Transit Authority will offer free face masks at numerous key transit stops along the Wasatch Front on Thursday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

That comes as the agency continues to ask passengers to wear masks while riding its system.

Among the TRAX and FrontRunner stations where they will be distributed, while supplies last, are: Salt Lake Central, Central Pointe, Millcreek, West Valley Central, Draper, Clearfield, Ogden, Orem Central and Provo Central.

Salt Lake City bus stops where they will be distributed include at 355 S. State Street, 1710 W. 1300 North and 1695 W. 400 South.

Davis County bus stops offering masks include at Layton Hills Mall and 16 S. U.S. Highway 89 in North Salt Lake. An Ogden bus stop with masks will be at 310 E. 25th Street. Utah Valley Express Stations with them include at the 2230 North Station in Provo and the University Place Station in Orem.

They will also be offered at the Benson Grist Mill park and ride in Stansbury Park and in Brigham City at 75 E. 700 North.

— Lee Davidson

2 p.m.: State working with Utah County in probe of two businesses where COVID-19 outbreaks occurred.

The Utah Department of Health is working with the Utah County Health Department to investigate two businesses there where there have been outbreaks of COVID-19, said Dr. Angela Dunn, the state’s epidemiologist.

“Neither of these two businesses have direct interaction with the general public,” Dunn said, adding that UDOH has not divulged the names of the businesses because of privacy — and that the state “can maintain public health while maintaining privacy.”

Dunn said Utah County didn’t have any orders in place when the outbreaks occurred, so she doesn’t think there will be any enforcement action taken against them.

Dunn stressed the need for businesses to follow the state’s guidelines and health orders to keep the spread of coronavirus at bay. “We need to take these recommendations seriously,” Dunn said.

Earlier Wednesday, 18 Utah County elected officials — three county commissioners and the mayors of 15 cities — are “strongly” encouraging businesses and residents to follow recommendations to stay as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic after the two businesses in the county ignored the guidelines and created COVID-19 hot spots.

Those two businesses were responsible for 68 cases. At one of the businesses, 48% of the employees tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement issued by the commissioners and mayors, employees at the two businesses were “instructed … to not follow quarantine guidelines after exposure to a confirmed case at work,” and they “required employees with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis to still report to work.”

“This is completely unacceptable and resulted in a temporary full closure for one business along with heightened requirements for future cleaning and inspections,” the statement continued. “Businesses who fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines are putting employees, their families, and ultimately the health of the community at risk.”

The statement was signed by Commissioners Tanner Ainge, Nathan Ivie and Bill Lee and the mayors of American Fork, Cedar Hills, Eagle Mountain, Elk Ridge, Goshen, Highland, Lehi, Orem, Payson, Pleasant Grove, Provo, Santaquin, Spanish Fork, Vineyard and Woodland Hills.

The rate of new cases in the state has plateaued, Dunn said, and if and when the rate starts dropping, the state should consider lowering the recovery level to “low risk,” or yellow. Another indicator is the capacity for hospital beds, she said.

— Sean Means, Paighten Harkins

1:45 p.m.: National Guardsmen will assist with COVID-19 testing around the state

Expect to see National Guardsmen helping out with testing for COVID-19, said Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, who’s in charge of Utah’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Burton, who retired from leading the Utah National Guard last year, said 120 Guardsmen will be deployed statewide. Many will be assigned to longterm care facilities, to help with testing of health care workers.

“They’ll be able to help us with rapid response too hotspots,” Burton said at the state’s regular media briefing Wednesday.

The Utah Department of Health is tracking the rate of new cases closely, Burton said. “We’re watching it every day, and we’re conferring with health care professionals across the spectrum,” he said.

Burton also reiterated calls from Gov. Gary Herbert to maintain social distancing and wear face masks.

In response to a call from Washington County officials to lift restrictions further, Burton said the state response is focusing on public health while being mindful of the economic impact of the disease.

“We strive to strike a balance here, the very best that we can,” he said.

Church congregations can resume meetings, Burton said, though it’s “nonnegotiable” that congregants maintain six-foot social distancing.

“It may be that a church may have to have three Sunday services instead of one,” Burton said.

— Sean Means

1:25 p.m.: Free coffee and doughnuts for medical workers

Health care workers can get a free doughnut and a medium cup of hot or iced coffee — no purchases necessary — at participating Dunkin’ stores.

The offer is available nationwide Wednesday, for National Nurses Day.

The offer continues through May 11 at the two Salt Lake City locations, 217 E. 400 South and 1479 E. 2100 South. Limit is one per customer with a valid ID.

The offer does not include cold brew and nitro cold brew and is not valid on mobile orders.

— Kathy Stephenson

1:20 p.m.: Utah Driver License Division reopens suspended services

With the state easing its coronavirus restrictions, the Utah Driver License Division is reopening some services that it had suspended.

It now allows people to call their nearest division office to schedule appointments to test or apply for such things learner permits, original licenses, out-of-state transfers, provisional licenses and motorcycle permits, according to an announcement on its webpage.

A list of division offices, hours and phone numbers is available online at: dld.utah.gov/office-locations-and-hours/

The division said it continues to offer walk-in service for what it considers to be essential actions such as renewing licenses, applying for commercial driver licenses and obtaining duplicates of licenses.

However, it said that if drivers are eligible to renew licenses online, they must do so. Some are not eligible because Utah rules and the federal REAL ID Act require people to appear every other renewal period to ensure that photos are fresh. Also, people older than 65 must have an eye exam (or have a doctor submit a form).

People who would normally be required to renew licenses in person but who are either essential medical workers or who are in high-risk populations may renew online or through the mail, and may contact the division for more information at 801-965-4437 or 888-353-4224. That process will require them to appear within six months for a vision exam and updated photo.

— Lee Davidson

1:10 p.m.: Two more Utahns have died from COVID-19, with 146 new cases

Two more Utahns have died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic to 58, the Utah Department of Health reported Wednesday.

Both of the new fatalities were women in Salt Lake County, had underlying medical conditions, and “were associated with” longterm care facilities. One was older than 85, the other was under 60, UDOH reported.

Utah now has 5,595 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 146 cases over Tuesday’s tally. That’s a daily rate increase of 2.7% from the day before.

Eight more people have been hospitalized, bringing the total to 464.

Wednesday’s report says 4,287 people have been tested for COVID-19 since Tuesday’s report, for a statewide total of 131,002 people tested. UDOH reports that 4.3% of those tested came back with a positive test.

The health department reports 2,509 cases are considered “recovered,” meaning it’s been three weeks since they were first diagnosed and they haven’t died.

— Sean P. Means

10:55 a.m.: Fairpark testing event aims to help underserved communities

Utah’s six legislators who are part of ethnic and racial minority groups have put together a testing event for underserved communities this weekend in conjunction with state and local governments and community health organizations.

The event, which is the first in a series, will take place at the Utah State Fairpark on Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. COVID-19 tests will be available there, free-of-charge and regardless of symptoms, to everyone who pre-registers, according to a news release from the Utah House Democratic Caucus. Those who are struggling with food or housing insecurity because of the pandemic will also have the opportunity to connect with stabilizing resources.

The event was spearheaded by Sens. Luz Escamilla and Jani Iwamoto and Reps. Angela Romero, Karen Kwan, Mark Wheatley and Sandra Hollins, all of whom are Democrats.

The move to test underserved communities comes as state data has shown the coronavirus pandemic to be more lethal and spread faster among communities of color in Utah. An analysis of ZIP codes provided by Salt Lake County also shows evidence of a disproportionate impact on minorities, with westside communities within the capital city facing worse impacts from the coronavirus than those living on the more affluent and white eastside.

That could be because those in higher socioeconomic brackets are more likely able to self isolate or work from home, Escamilla said in a recent interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. Many in communities of color work essential jobs, such as at grocery stores or in the service industry, and are not able to shelter in place to avoid contracting the disease, she said.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who added a multicultural subcommittee to the state’s coronavirus task force last month, has also cited language and cultural barriers as factors contributing to the higher case load among minority groups.

Members of the public are encouraged to call one of the following numbers by Friday to make an appointment for testing at Saturday’s event:

  • Spanish / English: 801-436-7118
  • Spanish / English: 562-448-5389
  • English: 801-413-3248
  • English: 801-747-9547

— Taylor Stevens

10:50 a.m.: Utah businesses concerned about getting protective gear

Gov. Gary Herbert’s recent decision to reopen portions of the economy has spurred new demand for personal protective equipment among businesses.

The state’s business owners say they expect to buy significant quantities of face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for their employees and workspaces, according to a new survey — yet roughly 43% say they lack confidence they can get those supplies.

The poll of roughly 250 businesses, conducted online by Economic Development Corporation of Utah, was part of what officials say was a two-week study of the availability of PPE.

The state’s own computer models, based on U.S. occupational safety and health guidelines for PPE industry by industry, indicate Utah producers can meet demand, if given time to boost their production.

Utah has in the meantime released a list of nearly 45 vendors based in the state who make and sell gloves, face shields, cloth masks, sanitizer, disinfectants, temperature scanners and viral fog treatments for workplaces.

But many small businesses, particularly in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, also haven’t seen cash flow for up to a month. So on Tuesday, the state also began offering free one-week supply kits of personal protective gear for businesses with less than 50 employees, known as PPE Push Packs.

Herbert said in a statement the state recognized that teleworking is not possible for many employees and the initial PPE kits aimed to “jump start” the transition back to work while businesses arrange longer term PPE supplies.

The program has relied on donations from the private sector, officials said. The state is also encouraging additional donations of PPE, particularly for use by health care workers.

— Tony Semerad

9:40 a.m.: Murray liquor store has reopened

All of Utah’s state-run liquor stores are up and running, but with shorter hours and social distancing requirements in place, officials with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Wednesday.

The store at 5056 S. State St. in Murray reopened Monday, one week after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

DABC spokesman Terry Wood said the store has since been sanitized by a professional company, and the agency was able to shuffle staff from other outlets to reopen.

During the pandemic, liquor stores have reduced their hours. They are open Monday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.

The state is limiting how many customers can be in the stores at any one time, said Wood. And people waiting to enter must keep a 6-foot distance.

Employees are required to wear masks and gloves. Gov. Gary Herbert and health officials have encouraged customers to also wear face coverings while out in public.

— Kathy Stephenson

9 a.m.: Utah County officials call for compliance after 2 businesses account for 68 coronavirus cases

Eighteen Utah County elected officials — three county commissioners and the mayors of 15 cities — are “strongly” encouraging businesses and residents to follow recommendations to stay as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic after two businesses in the county ignored the guidelines and created COVID-19 hot spots.

Those two businesses, which officials did not identify, were responsible for 68 cases. At one of the businesses, 48% of the employees tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement issued by the commissioners and mayors, employees at the two businesses were “instructed … to not follow quarantine guidelines after exposure to a confirmed case at work,” and they “required employees with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis to still report to work.”

“This is completely unacceptable and resulted in a temporary full closure for one business along with heightened requirements for future cleaning and inspections,” the statement continued. “Businesses who fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines are putting employees, their families, and ultimately the health of the community at risk.”

The statement was signed by Commissioners Tanner Ainge, Nathan Ivie and Bill Lee and the mayors of American Fork, Cedar Hills, Eagle Mountain, Elk Ridge, Goshen, Highland, Lehi, Orem, Payson, Pleasant Grove, Provo, Santaquin, Spanish Fork, Vineyard and Woodland Hills.

The officials said that most individuals and businesses in Utah County are following best-practices guidelines, but “it is vital that we do not lose the progress we have made in controlling the spread of the virus” as the state moves to an orange alert status. “As we begin turning the dial to reopen the economy, we must strongly emphasize the importance of following these guidelines. If we do not all work together to closely follow these guidelines, we could very easily slip back into a more restrictive state.”

The elected officials called for everyone to:

• Stay home as much as possible.

• Work from home when possible.

• Limit the size of gatherings.

• Wear a face mask in public.

• Avoid non-essential travel

• Maintain physical distancing (at least 6 feet).

• Check symptoms before any business interactions.

• Stay home if you’re sick of have COVID-19 symptoms.

— Scott D. Pierce