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It’s Wednesday, June 3. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.
[Read more coronavirus coverage here.]
Salt Lake City schools to keep providing meals duringsummer months
Salt Lake City School District will continue to provide meals for families to pick up during the summer while buildings are shut down because of the coronavirus.
The district will have 14 sites to grab to-go and pre-packaged food.
A full list of those locations is available at slcschools.org.
Both breakfast and lunch will be served from June 4 to Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Families can drive-thru or walk to pick up a meal.
Families don’t have to have children enrolled in the district to participate. The food is free of charge for anyone up to 18 years old.
— Courtney Tanner
2:20 p.m.: Fiesta Days Rodeo in Spanish Fork will go on as planned
The Fiesta Days Rodeo in Spanish Fork City will be going on as scheduled July 20-24.
The rodeo committee announced the decision to hold the 78th edition of the event Wednesday after consulting with the mayor, city council, staff, the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and state and county officials, according to a statement by city manager Seth Perrins, a committee member.
While most sporting events held since the COVID-19 outbreak have been held without fans in attendance, spectators will be allowed at the Fiesta Days Rodeo. They will be required to wear masks, which, according to the rodeo committee’s press release, “eliminates the need for 6-foot distancing between non-family groups.”
Other coronavirus precautions include symptom-checking participants before they compete and requiring them to wear face masks whenever they are not competing.
The Utah Department of Health and federal health officials recommend wearing a mask in addition to keeping at least 6 feet apart from non-family members when in a social setting. Though it’s prudent for events to require attendees to wear masks, said Dr. Angela Dunn, the state’s epidemiologist, “masks are not a replacement for social distancing.”
Dunn, speaking Wednesday at the state’s weekly media briefing about the coronavirus pandemic, said “masks do not eliminate the risk of spread due to COVID-19. They have been shown to reduce the spread. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing.”
The Fiesta Days announcement came exactly one week after the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and festival were canceled due to coronavirus concerns. It marks the first time in its 124-year history that Frontier Days, one of the most prestigious rodeos in the world, will not be held. It was scheduled for July 17-26.
Tickets and a Fiesta Days schedule can be found at SFFiestaDaysRodeo.com. Tickets are fully refundable until June 18.
— Julie Jag
1:55 p.m.: Angie’s Restaurant closes after employee tested positive for COVID-19
Angie’s Restaurant closed May 30 after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, causing the popular Logan eatery to go back to “square one.”
The restaurant’s business plunged by nearly 75% in March because of the pandemic, and it had been struggling to reopen due to restrictions and lack of employees, according to The Herald Journal.
Once the employee tested positive, owner Saboor Sahely shut down the restaurant for the safety of customers and employees. He also asked the approximately 80 other employees to be tested.
“We love you, your safety and health matter more to us than we can express,” Angie’s Restaurant posted on Facebook. “We are doing all we can to keep you safe while working on opening again. We are SO very proud to live in this valley and to own a small business here. We thank YOU for your support and kindness during these very strange times.”
Angie’s is not releasing the name of the employee who tested positive. Sahely told The Herald Journal that she did not contact any customers and went home after she reported her cough. The restaurant will make plans to reopen once the other employees’ test results are received.
Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, Angie’s is dedicated to the community, it said. The restaurant decided to send free baskets of food to longtime customers instead of wasting new grocery deliveries. Sahely told the newspaper that he expects the restaurant to recover.
“Right now, we’re back to square one because I feel that the health of the employees and the customers is far more important than financial gains,” Sahely said to The Herald Journal. “And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Business will come back, but if you lost a life, that will never come back.”
— Libby Seline
1:40 p.m.: State epidemiologist says rise in cases is a statewide trend
The state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Angela Dunn, was blunt on Wednesday: “We have increased spread of COVID-19 in Utah.”
It’s “a statewide trend,” with no single identifiable cause, Dunn said at the state’s weekly briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.
Nine of the state’s 13 health districts saw a growth rate of more than 15%, Dunn said — so the increase in cases isn’t limited to a single part of the state.
Many of the new cases are outbreaks in places of business, where people are in close contact indoors, Dunn said. This follows national trends, she said.
The state’s decisions to loosen restrictions “does not mean that the risk of spread is decreasing,” she noted.
"It’s what we do in society, and with our actions, that can cause COVID-19 to spread more readily,” Dunn said. “We must continue to take action as individuals” to prevent more illness and death, she said.
Dunn said it is premature to discuss lowering the safety restrictions from “yellow” to “green,” as a state commission has suggested. “Based on the data we have seen in the past week, we don’t recommend any jurisdiction in the state going to green,” Dunn said.
The state is tracking hospitalizations and the capacity of intensive care units — which is a lagging trend, Dunn said. “It’s really important to see the leading metric in cases,” Dunn said, to keep hospitals from being overrun.
She had advice for people attending protests this week — if they have symptoms of COVID-19, “stay home, don’t participate,” she said, adding that everyone should, if possible, maintain 6 feet of social distancing. So far, Dunn said, the state has not seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among people attending protests.
Dunn said the Utah Department of Health was aware some members of law enforcement were not wearing face masks at the protests in Salt Lake City, but many were wearing plastic face shields. “The important thing is to have a barrier between your mouth and other people,” she said.
— Sean P. Means
1:15 p.m.: Utah reports 295 newly confirmed cases and four new deaths
Four more Utahns have died from COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported Wednesday — and, for the seventh straight day, more than 200 new cases have been confirmed.
All four deaths were men in Salt Lake County, UDOH reported. One was younger than 60, and was hospitalized at the time of his death. The other three were all living in long-term care facilities; one was between the ages of 60-and 85; the other two were older than 85.
The fatalities brought the state’s death toll from COVID-19 to 117.
UDOH reported 295 new cases of COVID-19, compared to the day before — the second-highest number of cases reported in a single day. The record, set on Friday, is 343 cases in a day.
Since the first confirmed cases were reported in March, Utah has tallied 10,497 cases of COVID-19.
The state reported 28 more people checking into hospitals because of COVID-19 over the last day, bringing the state’s total hospitalizations to 829. There are 108 people with COVID-19 still in hospitals as of Wednesday.
Another 2,190 people in Utah were tested for the coronavirus in the last day, UDOH reported. That brings the total number tested to 223,981.
UDOH reports 6,501 people have “recovered” from COVID-19 — which, by the state’s definition, means they have gone three weeks since being diagnosed and are still alive.
— Sean P. Means
12:30 p.m.: U.S. airline industry used 70% less fuel in April 2020 than April 2019
New federal data show another angle on just how bad April was for the U.S. airline industry: it used 70% less fuel in April than it did a year earlier.
That was the lowest fuel consumption for records dating back to 2000, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation statistics said on Wednesday.
It said U.S. airlines used 449 million gallons of fuel in April this year, compared to 1.5 billion gallons in April 2019. April was the month when stay-at-home orders from COVID-19 were at their height in the nation.
Some good news for the airlines in that time was the price of fuel also plummeted. The average cost per gallon in April was $1.38, compared to $2.06 in April 2019. That was the lowest cost per gallon since April 2016, the BTS said.
— Lee Davidson
11:10 a.m.: Crossroads Urban Center to reopen food pantry
The Crossroads Urban Center thrift store is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, June 9, with limited hours to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The west Salt Lake City store, 1385 W. Indiana Ave., is reopening because growing numbers of the center’s food pantry patrons need new clothing, according to the center’s monthly newsletter.
From noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, adults wearing face masks are able to shop at the store. Only a certain number of guests will be allowed inside at the same time, and the store will permit one person from a household to enter. Additionally, no children are allowed.
People can make donations at the back of the building when the store is open.
— Libby Seline
10:25 a.m.: Logan posts lowest jobless rate in federal tally; St. George, Salt Lake City among highest in Utah
Among Utah’s larger metropolitan areas, Salt Lake City and St. George saw worse pandemic-related job losses in April than other cities, new numbers indicate.
Even so, unemployment remains lower for Utah population centers than elsewhere in the country, with Logan posting the single lowest jobless rate for April among all 389 U.S. metropolitan areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
While the April jobless rate rose to 10.3% for Utah as a whole, the bureau reported that unemployment climbed to 12.3% that month in St. George, with 9,282 residents thrown out of work.
In Utah’s capital, the unemployment rate reached 11.2% in April, the bureau said, with 74,028 residents rendered jobless.
The April unemployment numbers were lower in the Ogden-Clearfield area, at 9.7%, with 32,534 unemployed; Provo-Orem, at 7.8%, with 23,873 residents out of work; and in Logan, at 6.2%, with 4,351 residents unemployed.
The bureau said 164,164 Beehive State residents as a whole faced job losses, furloughs or pay cuts for the month — which saw unemployment rise in all U.S. metropolitan areas it tracks.
The area of Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina in Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate in the nation for April, at 35%, the report said. Close behind were Kokomo in Indiana, at 34.1%; Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise in Nevada, at 33.5%; and Atlantic City-Hammonton in New Jersey, at 33.3%.
— Tony Semerad
8:30 a.m.: Salt Lake City restaurants and bars say curfew confusion is hurting business
Restaurant and bar owners say confusion over Salt Lake City’s weeklong curfew is hurting their already struggling businesses.
“Businesses think that they have to close at 8 p.m. and customers think they have to leave the bars by 8 p.m.,” Dave Morris, a Salt Lake City bar owner and president of the Utah Hospitality Association, wrote in an email to Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “If COVID-19 was not enough of a financial hardship, to follow it up with riots and curfew.”
In the email, sent Tuesday afternoon, Morris asked Mendenhall to issue another statement to help people understand the clampdown.
“Please put out some clarification to the public about the curfew,” he wrote. “My business owner members, employees and customers are very confused.”
The city curfew was put into place Monday and will be in effect every night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Monday, June 8.
Under the proclamation, businesses are not required to close during this time.
The order lists several exceptions such as “patronizing a private business, including but not limited to retail merchants and restaurants.”
The curfew also allows people to leave their homes to work, worship, obtain food, seek medical care and take care of family members, friends and pets. It also doesn’t apply to public safety officers, members of the media or people experiencing homelessness.
— Kathy Stephenson