Live coronavirus updates for Tuesday, June 2: Panel recommends Utah transition to 'green’, or ‘new normal,’ risk level this weekend

(Photo courtesy of ARUP) Employees conduct testing at ARUP laboratories in Salt Lake City.

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It’s Tuesday, June 2. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read more coronavirus coverage here.]


6:15 p.m.: Panel recommends Utah transition to ‘new normal’ risk level

The state’s economic emergency commission is recommending that most of Utah transition to a “green” or a “new normal” risk level for the coronavirus this weekend.

The suggestion comes after the state has been in the “yellow” or low status for about two weeks. However, some areas, including Salt Lake City, remain at “orange” or moderate risk.

Moving to “green” would eliminate most of the health guidelines put in place across the state, though not all areas would have to transition.

“We emphasize that green is not pre-pandemic,” said Sen. Dan Hemmert, co-chairman of the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission, in a statement.

“While data is indicating Utah can begin transitioning to a lower risk level responsibly, it does not apply to everyone.

”The commission, formed in April and focused on reopening the state, voted unanimously Tuesday to move to that lowest status. It says the recommendation is based on data — though Utah has had more than 200 new virus cases each day for the past six days — that shows 99% of people infected here recover.

The group still suggests that individuals who are immunocompromised or at high-risk of contracting the virus exercise caution and stay home when possible.

Everyone is asked to continue wearing face masks.

Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to weigh in on the recommendation this week.

— Courtney Tanner

1:05 p.m.: Utah logs 203 new cases of COVID-19, crossing the 10,000 mark

More than 10,000 Utahns have tested positive for coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, state health officials reported on Tuesday.

The total number of cases stood at 10,202 — 203 more than on Monday, continuing a six-day trend of daily jumps of more than 200 cases.

One person had died from COVID-19 since Monday, but the state’s death toll remained 113 because a patient who died previously was determined to have been a resident of another state, the Utah Department of Health reported. The man whose death was newly reported was a Salt Lake County resident, between 60 and 85, who was hospitalized when he died.

Twelve people were reported since Monday to have been hospitalized with COVID-19, UDOH reported. That brings the total number of hospitalizations to 801, with 108 of those patients still receiving hospital care.

The state reported test results for 3,679 more patients, with 221,791 people tested since the beginning of the outbreak.

Of all those who have tested positive, 6,319 are considered “recovered” — that is, they have survived for at least three weeks after diagnosis, UDOH reported.

— Erin Alberty

11:30 a.m.: Deseret Industries reopening stores and will allow donations by appointment only

Deseret Industries has begun the process of reopening its stores — including 21 outlets in Utah — and will begin accepting a limited number of donations by appointment only.

Stores will have reduced hours — from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday — to allow for restocking and sanitation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates the nonprofit outlets, said in a news release.

Customers should visit deseretindustries.org/reopen for the status of each location

D.I, as it is commonly called, is known for accepting donated items, which are then sold in the stores at low prices.

“We expect an influx of donations into our stores,” Brent Palmer, Deseret Industries manager of operations, said in a news release. “We are so grateful for everyone who has waited to donate, and we want to accept as many donations as possible. Donated items allow us to help the associates in our job-training program.”

D.I. plans to quarantine donations, the statement said. This will limit the number of items that can be accepted during the initial reopening period, and drop-off operations may close early because of increased demand and the time required to quarantine each donation.

Donations of mattresses and box springs are no longer accepted. Donors should wait in their vehicle until it is their turn to donate. Once they have reached the drop-off area, donors can remove items from their car and place them in the designated bin or carts. Donors are encouraged to wear masks.

In the stores, workers will be wearing masks and gloves (shoppers are encouraged to don masks as well). The volume of patrons inside stores will be limited to allow for proper social distancing. Signs and floor stickers will help customers and staffers heed spacing guidelines.

— Kathy Stephenson

10:50 a.m.: Saliva tests now available

University of Utah Health will now offer saliva testing at one of its drive-through coronavirus sites.

Individuals tested for COVID-19 at the Redwood Center in Salt Lake City, 1525 W. 2100 South, will first use the traditional nose swab. But they can now choose to also provide a spit sample.

The U. will use that specimen to study whether saliva can be another effective way to check for the virus.

“These alternative sample types are easier to obtain and may be more comfortable for patients,” said Kim Hanson, an infectious diseases physician at the U.

The school will be partnering with ARUP Laboratories for the study. And researchers hope to have 1,000 participants.

It will be about a month before they know if the saliva tests are valid.

— Courtney Tanner