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Live coronavirus updates for Tuesday, May 12: Five more die; Shakespeare Festival and the Greek Festival are canceled

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Workers organize supplies at the Receiving, Staging and Shipping Center at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 8, 2020. The center serves as a central location for personal protective equipment received by the State of Utah and sent to hospitals, local health departments and emergency managers.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing free access to critical stories about the coronavirus. Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter, sent to your inbox every weekday morning. To support journalism like this, please donate or become a subscriber.

It’s Tuesday, May 12. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read more coronavirus coverage here.]

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4:50 p.m.: Utah Summer Games called off because of virus

The Utah Summer Games have been canceled — the latest in a long list of events — due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The games, which are hosted annually at Southern Utah University, were scheduled this year to run from June 1-June 21.

This will be the first time since 1986 that the games have not been held.

“Although we are deeply saddened by this decision, we feel that it is the best thing we can do for the health and safety of our athletes, spectators, and most importantly, our local communities, state and nation,” said Pace Clarke, executive director of the games, in a news release.

Those who have registered can receive a refund by emailing usg@suu.edu(opens in new tab) or calling 435-865-8421. Typically, 10,000 athletes participate.

— Courtney Tanner

3:30 p.m.: Salt Lake County’s ‘pet pantry’ available

Pet owners who need help feeding their dogs and cats can get help on Saturday during Salt Lake County Animal Services’ Pet Crew Pantry.

It runs from 9 a.m. to noon, or while supplies last, at the shelter, 511 W. 3900 South.

“This pet food pickup is for dog and cat owners struggling to purchase pet food for their furry family during this difficult time,” the county announced.

Humans can get one or two bags of dry food (a gallon each) depending on the number and size of pets in their household. Some canned food also will be available.

Drivers must enter from 500 West and remain in their vehicles. Employees will direct drivers to the marked stations. Cars should not line up before 9 a.m.

Pet food has been donated by The Dog's Meow, George Q. Morris Foundation, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Humane Society International, Petfinder Foundation, Save Our Local Pets Utah, Walmart Foundation and others in the community.

— Kathy Stephenson

2:25 p.m.: Utah Shakespeare Festival canceled

All the world’s a stage, but the stages in Cedar City will stay dark this summer, as the Utah Shakespeare Festival has canceled its 2020 season.

“This is a direct result of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on performing arts,” Frank Mack, the festival’s executive producer, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “When we announced our revised season, we indicated that we would cancel our season if we had to, and sadly it has come to that.”

The festival was originally set to begin in Cedar City on June 1, a date that was pushed back to June 10 when the scope of the coronavirus pandemic was first being realized.

On April 13, organizers announced a plan for a stripped-down festival that would launch on July 9 with Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” in the indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre, followed by outdoor productions of “Richard III,” “Pericles” and “The Comedy of Errors” opening between July 20 and 22.

One reason for the cancellation, according to the festival’s announcement, is that Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, will not extend contracts to professional theaters until new safety protocols are written and implemented. The festival had planned to start rehearsals on June 15, but could not finalize contracts with Actors’ Equity in time.

The festival box office will contact ticket buyers to offer full refunds. Ticket holders can, if they choose, roll their tickets over to the 2021 season — the festival’s 60th anniversary — or donate the value of their tickets to the festival.

— Sean P. Means

1 p.m.: Salt Lake City’s Greek Festival canceled

Salt Lake City’s annual Greek Festival, one of the state’s longest-running and most popular cultural events, has been canceled, officials announced Tuesday.

“The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake City has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Salt Lake Greek Festival,” Mary Royal, the parish administrator, wrote in an email. “We regret that we will not be able to welcome the community to our church this fall to share and experience Greek culture and food with our friends and neighbors.”

This would have been the 45th year for the festival, a three-day event that celebrates Greek culture with food, folk dancing and tours of the Holy Trinity Cathedral at 279 S. 300 West.

Members of the parish — which also includes Prophet Elias in Holladay — work all summer preparing the food and pastries for the event, typically held the weekend after Labor Day.

— Kathy Stephenson

12:45 p.m.: Five Utahns die as the increase in cases slows

Five more Utahns have died from COVID-19, the state’s health department announced Tuesday, bringing Utah’s death toll to 73.

Four of those deaths occurred in Salt Lake County. Two were men between the ages of 60 and 84. One lived in a long-term care facility and the other was hospitalized at the time of his death The two others were women, both older than 85 and living in long-term care facilities.

The fifth person who died was a woman older than 85, who lived in a long-term care facility in Weber County. (The health department originally said Utah County and later issued a correction.)

The state now has 6,432 COVID-19 cases, 70 more than the day before. It’s the lowest daily increase in cases in nearly a month.

Eighteen more people have been hospitalized since the day before, bringing the total to 535 hospitalizations. Officials say 99 people are current hospitalized.

So far, 153,485 people have been tested for the coronavirus. In the last day, 2,900 more tests have been tallied.

The health department reports 3,267 cases are considered “recovered,” meaning it’s been three weeks since they were first diagnosed and they haven’t died.

—Paighten Harkins

12 p.m.: Free COVID-19 testing offered by the Mexican consulate

The Mexican consulate in Salt Lake City is offering free COVID-19 testing for people without insurance.

The testing will take place between 3 and 7 p.m. on May 15 at the Centro Cívico Mexicano, at 155 S. 600 West in Salt Lake City. Tests will be administered as people drive up and remain in their cars.

To be tested, one must make an appointment by calling 801-747-9547 or 801-436-7118.

The testing is being offered through a partnership with the Mexican consulate, Centro Cívico Mexicano, the Utah Department of Health, the University of Utah Wellness Bus, the Salt Lake County Health Department and Comunidades Unidas.

—Paighten Harkins

10:25 a.m.: Deer Valley cancels 2020 summer concerts

The hills will not be alive with the sound of music, as all three summer outdoor concert series at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater are canceled for 2020.

“Although it was a difficult decision to not offer any of the highly anticipated annual concerts, we all agree that pausing these events this year is in the best interest of the health and safety of our community, our guests and our staff members,” Todd Shallan, president and COO of Deer Valley, said in a statement Tuesday.

The Utah Symphony announced Tuesday it is canceling this year’s Deer Valley Music Festival — 19 concerts that were set to play in Park City between July 3 and August 12.

“Our first priority is the health and safety of our musicians, staff and the public,” Patricia A. Richards, interim president/CEO of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Also canceled are the Deer Valley Concert Series, programmed by The State Room Presents, and the Mountain Town Music series.

The Utah Symphony was scheduled to play as the back-up band to The Beach Boys, Ben Folds, Kool & the Gang, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Little River Band — all at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater. The festival’s line-up also included chamber-music performances at St. Mary’s Church in Park City, and small ensembles of Utah Symphony musicians in Main Street art galleries.

The symphony labels the cancellation a “postponement” of shows until summer 2021, and says it is working to reschedule shows for then. Ticket buyers can opt to hold on to their tickets for next year, donate the value of their tickets to the symphony, or receive gift certificates for future concerts.

Organizers of Mountain Town Music say they will schedule small, intimate concerts around Park City over the summer, to “bring the music to your cul-de-sac, your street, your driveway, your garage, your backyard or wherever your small group plans to responsibly gather.” Details for the “Door 2 Door Tour 2020” are pending.

— Sean P. Means

10:20 a.m.: Utahns are statistically least vulnerable to COVID-19, study says

Utah’s population is the least vulnerable in the nation, statistically speaking, to the coronavirus, according to a new study.

The survey, released Tuesday by the credit-reporting website WalletHub, ranks Utah 51st among the states and the District of Columbia in terms of how vulnerable its people are for catching the coronavirus.

West Virginia was ranked the most vulnerable, with Deep South states taking the next 10 slots.

After Utah, the next least vulnerable populations were in Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Utah ranked 50th, just ahead of Colorado, for medical vulnerability — a metric that includes the share of adults diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and hypertension. The category also measures such factors as cancer, HIV infections and obesity, as well as the share of the population 65 and older, and the occupancy rate of nursing-home facilities.

In the specific category of population 65 and older, Utah ranked dead last — likely attributable to the number of families with young children in the state. Utah was fifth from the bottom in the share of population with COPD.

Utah ranked 46th for housing vulnerability, which measured the share of unsheltered homeless people, homes lacking access to basic hygiene, and areas that are medically underserved. The District of Columbia ranked last — i.e., least bad — in this category, followed by Rhode Island, Indiana, New York and Michigan.

And Utah ranked 48th — ahead of Massachusetts, Minnesota and Iowa — in financial vulnerability. That category measures how many people have rainy-day funds, have fallen behind in their bills, are delinquent on debt or have declared bankruptcy. It also measures the states with the biggest increases in unemployment, and other household income factors.

— Sean P. Means

10:10 a.m.: Utah ranks first in emergency business loans

Utah businesses are getting a substantial share of COVID-19 emergency loans offered by the U.S. government, several reports indicate.

As of last Friday, nearly 45,990 loans had been awarded under the Paycheck Protection Program to smaller employers in the Beehive State, for a total of $5.5 billion, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The program, funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security, or CARES Act, initially pumped $3.7 billion into forgivable loans for 21,257 Utah businesses, for use to cover payroll and other expenses — although many employers complained of being shut out by application delays and computer problems. The Salt Lake Tribune received one of these loans.

So far in a second round of loans which began April 27, the SBA has awarded 2.57 million loans worth nearly $188 billion out of the $320 billion set aside by Congress to replenish the program.

And while about a third of Utah’s businesses with fewer than 500 employees got loans in the first round of applications, SBA data indicates the second round though May 8 has now boosted that share to 71%.

An analysis by financial news outlet Bloomberg indicates that Utah now ranks first among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in emergency SBA loans awarded as a percent of eligible payroll — at 97.5%.

Hawaii (96.2%); South Dakota (95.1%); Nebraska (94.5%) and Florida (94.4%) also ranked high, the analysis shows.

Howard Headlee, CEO of the Utah Bankers Association, credit that to an “around the clock” effort by banks to help their customers withstand economic disruption, calling it “a tremendous result.”

“This is an amazing team effort that will bode very well for Utah’s economic recovery,” Headlee said in a statement.

— Tony Semeard

9:50 a.m.: Utah will expand virtual court hearings

The Utah Supreme Court has instructed judges to expand virtual hearings in both criminal and civil matters, including bench trials.

In-person proceedings will not resume until further notice, despite the state moving from the red (high risk) to the orange (moderate risk) COVID-19 level. In his updated administrative order, Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant wrote that there will be “limited exceptions” for “for unusual circumstances.”

According to a news release, most hearings can be held remotely with the consent of those involved. The updated order allows judges to order remote bench trials to proceed if a judge believes consent is being “unreasonably withheld.”

— Scott D. Pierce


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