Utah health official’s weekend plea: Wear mask, maintain distance

SALT LAKE CITY — A day after Utah reported its biggest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, the state epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health took to Twitter asking residents to do their part to stem the pandemic’s tide.

In her “weekend plea” Saturday morning, Dr. Angela Dunn wrote:

“Our largest increase in #COVID19 cases occurred yesterday & could be due to testing trends and isolated outbreaks. Please prove that right by social distancing and wearing a mask when you can’t; staying home when you feel ill.”

Officials on Friday confirmed the steepest rise in COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began, with 343 cases added in a day. Saturday’s numbers showed another 269 positive test results and five more deaths across the Beehive State. The death toll stands at 112 and total case count is 9,533, the health department reported Saturday.

The health department noted one of the deaths added to the toll was a previously reported death that was under further investigation by the Office of the Medical Examiner. The death investigation showed the cause of death to be COVID-19. The four new deaths include:

• A Salt Lake County woman between the ages of 60-84 who was a resident of a long-term care facility.

• A Salt Lake County man older than age 85 who had underlying medical conditions.

• A Weber County woman older than age 85 who was a resident of a long-term care facility.

• A Salt Lake County man younger than age 60 who had underlying medical conditions.

Dunn said Friday that “comparing weekly cases over the past two weeks, we have seen a 3% increase in daily cases. Specifically, we have seen 1,197 new cases in the current week, compared to 1,162 cases in the week prior,” Dunn said.

She also noted that it is too early to tell if it was a trend signaling a new wave of infections and that resident people must remain vigilant on safe practices.

One effort to ensure people could do their part by wearing a mask hit a milestone Saturday.

A grassroots initiative known as ProjectProtect set out to enlist thousands of sewing volunteers across the state to manufacture personal protective equipment for frontline caregivers, including more than 5 million medical-grade masks.

Officials from Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Latter-day Saint Charities and several other Utah nonprofit organizations that organized the program held a news conference to announce reaching that goal Saturday morning.

This story will be updated.

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