Live coronavirus updates for Wednesday, May 27: New guidance issued for Utah’s low-risk phase

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo ) The Utah Department of Health tests staff in the pavilion of the West Jordan Care Center for the coronavirus on Thursday, May 21, 2020. The testing is part of a plan to test staff at all long-term care facilities, with centers for memory patients and the intellectually disabled receiving priority.

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It’s Wednesday, May 27. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read more coronavirus coverage here.]


9:15 p.m.: Utah State University postpones graduation

Utah State University had postponed its graduation ceremony until August in the hopes that the coronavirus would have waned by then — but now the school will cancel those plans, as well.

USU had anticipated holding the event on Aug. 28 for its 2020 spring graduates after their May celebrated was called off. It said Wednesday that for the fears of the “impacts on our local community,” that will again be delayed.

“As the public health situation has continued to unfold, the university has determined it would be difficult to host the number of people who traditionally attend a commencement ceremony and maintain safety protocols for social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings,” the school said in a statement.

Utah State has not announced specific dates for when the ceremony might be rescheduled.

— Courtney Tanner

8:00 p.m.: Utah nursing homes to get masks, gloves from federal government

More than 30 nursing homes in Utah will receive a shipment of personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, from the federal government.

The White House said Wednesday that the 14-day supplies are meant to help staff respond to the coronavirus with their critical patients.

The first package should arrive before the end of the month. And a second one should come in June. In total, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending the equipment to more than 15,000 nursing homes across the nation.

Care centers have been particularly hard hit with infection. In Utah, about half of the cases have been at those facilities.

— Courtney Tanner

7:50 p.m.: University of Utah Health changes testing sites hours

University of Utah Health is cutting back and changing the hours for its drive-in COVID-19 testing sites.

“It allows more of our staff to relocate back to their areas of specialty where services have re-opened and patient volumes are increasing,” said Dr. Richard Orlandi, chief medical officer of ambulatory health, in a statement.

Starting Thursday, the operations will run as such:

• South Jordan and Farmington Health Centers

Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to noon

Weekends and holidays, 8 a.m. to noon

• Sugar House and Redwood Health Centers

Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Weekends and holidays, 8 a.m. to noon

At the site in Park City, run jointly with Intermountain Healthcare, the hours will remain the same. That operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 6 p.m.

— Courtney Tanner

7:30 p.m.: Gov. Herbert issues new guidance allowing all businesses to open and schools to resume in fall

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued updated guidelines for most of the state Wednesday that’s in the “yellow” or low risk phase for spreading the coronavirus.

“We are making progress and we can see that these recommendations are working,” he said in a statement. “I would like to express my gratitude to all who are taking these recommendations seriously, and stress that following these guidelines is crucial to ensuring the safety and health of us all.”

The new guidance notes that all businesses can open. Nonessential travel, its says, should be avoided in areas with high community spread, particularly out of state.

And it also called for schools and colleges to reopen this fall. It strongly urges people, too, to wear face masks.

The new guidance comes in an executive order that takes effect immediately and runs through June 5.

— Courtney Tanner

1 p.m.: Utah reports four new deaths

Four more Utahns have died from COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health announced Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 105. The four new fatalities are:

• A Utah County man, between the ages of 60 and 85, who was hospitalized when he died.

• A Weber County woman, between 60 and 85, who was in a long-term care facility.

• A Weber County woman, older than 85, also in a long-term care facility.

• A Salt Lake County woman, between 18 and 60, who was hospitalized when she died.

UDOH tallied 86 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 8,706. Wednesday’s new cases represent a daily rate increase of 1.0% compared with the day before.

Twenty more Utahns went into a hospital because of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 716. There are now 96 positive COVID-19 patients in hospitals, UDOH reports.

Another 2,034 tests have been processed from the day before, the state reported — which brings the total number of tests over the 200,000 mark. Of the 200,626 tests performed, 4.3% have been positive for the coronavirus.

UDOH reports 5,499 cases are considered “recovered” — which, by the state’s definition, means they have gone three weeks since being diagnosed and haven’t died.

— Sean P. Means

12:55 p.m.: Free child care for Utah essential workers ending after June

The One Utah Child Care program for essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic will stop at the end of June.

With summer program options opening and most of Utah now in the low-risk, “yellow” level of the governor’s plan to reopen the state, “the emergency program has completed its purpose in helping ensure the health and safety needs of the public were met during the critical phase of this crisis,” according to a news release Wednesday from the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

The program, funded through the federal CARES Act, provided free child care options for Utahns who work as health care workers and first responders during school closures. Since March 30, 654 children have been served and 30 centers were opened as part of the program.

“We are remarkably proud of the vital service One Utah Child Care provided to essential employees in our state,” Tracy Gruber, director of the Utah Office of Child Care, said in a statement. “This effort represents the collaborative work of so many in both the private and public sectors.”

Parents participating in the program have been notified with the date their child care concludes. Anyone with questions can contact the Office of Child Care at occspecialist@utah.gov.

Gruber’s office is offering a summer supplemental grant program, also through CARES Act funding, “to support families of school-age children during the summer months.”

Parents can find available child care programs at careaboutchildcare.org. People may also apply for income-based child care subsidies at jobs.utah.gov/mycase

— Becky Jacobs

12:45 p.m.: Utah Hispanics now account for more cases than any other group

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Hispanic community on Wednesday surpassed those of any other race in Utah, even the supermajority white population.

Hispanics account for 3,363 total cases, which makes up 38.6% of all cases in the state, per the Utah Department of Health’s most recent data. Hispanics make up only 14.2% of the total population.

Whites, which make up 78% of the population, now represent the second highest number of cases at 3,350 or 38.5%.

The health department started disclosing race and ethnicity data in mid-April, when the disparity in positive cases between white Utahns and Utahns of color was first revealed. At that time, Hispanics accounted for 28% of the cases, a figure that has grown in recent weeks.

Health and government officials, community leaders and activists have said communities of color could be predisposed to higher rates of infection. The reasons are largely anecdotal at this point, though they consistently point to the types of jobs they work, which are more likely to require people to come into contact with others and living in tighter quarters with more family members.

Utah is not unique, nationwide the coronavirus has hit people of color more than whites.

— Alex Vejar

12:30 p.m.: Dinosaur National Monument to allow camping and river trips

Dinosaur National Monument continues its phased reopening, with the National Park Service announcing increased access to camping and river recreation starting next month.

On Sunday, June 7, the monument’s developed campgrounds at Split Mountain, Green River, Echo Park, Deerlodge Park and Gates of Lodore will open, with access to restrooms and drinking water. The National Park Service will issue free permits for backcountry camping as well. Daily river trips through Split Mountain Canyon and multi-day trips on the Green and Yampa rivers will resume, although most river trip permits have already been assigned.

Monument staff will not collect entrance fees for the time being, but visitors must pay to use campgrounds.

All monument roads and trails reopened May 13. The visitors centers and the Quarry Exhibit Hall remain closed until further notice. The monument also will not be offering any ranger-guided programs.

Park Service officials urge visitors to follow recreation guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which includes maintaining safe social distances, avoiding crowds and sticking to parks that are close to home. Staff with the national monument also encourage people to wear face masks when appropriate and to avoid high-risk activities.

More information on changing conditions can be found on Dinosaur National Monument’s social media pages and website. Each unit managed by the National Park Service is opening on a limited, park-by-park basis during the pandemic.

— Leia Larsen