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There were signs Saturday — the first day most of Utah moved into the low-risk “yellow” coronavirus safety level — that life might be inching closer to normal.
A Little League Baseball game — complete with team uniforms, an umpire and an announcer — took place for the first time this spring on the fields west of Mueller Park Junior High School in Bountiful.
Just east of the school, a Utah Surf club soccer team held its inaugural conditioning session.
“The girls were eager to get back,” said coach Sasa Vidic, who wore a mask during practice and required each player to bring her own ball. “It was great to see the smiles on their faces when they arrived at the field.”
The team plans to scrimmage Tuesday, Vidic said. “That’s when things will feel a little bit more normal.”
Down the road, Chet Loftus and about 16 other relatives and neighbors were in a heated game of Ultimate Frisbee — a regular Saturday activity the neighbors and friends were forced to put on hold since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Utah.
The players — ages 6 to 56 — were spread across the grass and used elbow bumps instead of high-fives to celebrate a score.
“This is the first time everyone felt comfortable playing,” said Loftus. “We haven’t gotten together for three months.”
Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that much of the state — except Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Magna, along with Grand, Summit and Wasatch counties — could move out of the moderate-risk or “orange” level.
The change allows gatherings of up to 50 people, club and youth sports to practice and play games — but not high schools — and all businesses can open if they take reasonable precautions such as social distancing and encouraging use of face masks when staying 6 feet apart is difficult.
Restaurants, which were allowed to offer dine-in services under “orange” guidelines, can now include buffet and bar service — but with restrictions, mostly operating more like a school cafeteria than the self-serve options to which most diners are accustomed.
While some parts of the state moved closer to normalcy, the latest numbers from the Utah Department of Health show the coronavirus is still affecting residents.
The state had one more death and 155 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing Utah’s total death toll to 78.
The person who died was between age 18 and 59, the department said. She was a Salt Lake County resident who resided in a long-term care facility.
Utah now has 7,068 confirmed cases.
The department also reported that 166,774 people have been tested for COVID-19, an increase of 3,556 from Friday’s report. That gives the state a positive test rate of 4.2%.
It said 103 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, that’s 12 more than Friday. In total, 578 people in Utah have been hospitalized for the virus.
In addition, 3,896 cases are considered “recovered." A case with a diagnosis date of more than three weeks ago, who has not died, is considered recovered.
The Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center opened Thursday under “orange” guidelines, which allowed lap swimming — one person per lane — as well as ice skating and hockey conditioning with precautions.
“We got back some of our regulars,” said Ben Hill, executive director of the Cottonwood Heights Parks and Recreation Service Area. “But we know it will take awhile for some people to feel comfortable.”
Moving to “yellow” or low-risk level will take “a couple more weeks,” he said. “We still have to train our lifeguards and get the staff up and going.”