A plane filled with personal protective equipment is unloaded at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. “We are in a wartime environment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




Community members gather at the Washington County Administration Building to challenge state directives and express their desire to reopen businesses around the county Wednesday, April 15, 2020.




Community members gather at the Washington County Administration Building to challenge state directives and express their desire to reopen businesses around the county Wednesday, April 15, 2020.




Community members gather at the Washington County Administration Building to challenge state directives and express their desire to reopen businesses around the county Wednesday, April 15, 2020.




Utah Gov. Gary Herbert puts on a mask that came off a plane filled with personal protective equipment at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




The State Room displays a “Stay Safe” sign Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Congress, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve have mounted the largest financial intervention in history a full-scale drive that includes mandating sick leave for some, distributing $1,200 checks to individuals, allocating rescue aid to employers and expanding unemployment benefits to try to help America survive the crisis. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




A plane filled with personal protective equipment is unloaded at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. “We are in a wartime environment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




People line up outside the Utah Department of workforce Services Monday, April 13, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Congress, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve have mounted the largest financial intervention in history a full-scale drive that includes mandating sick leave for some, distributing $1,200 checks to individuals, allocating rescue aid to employers and expanding unemployment benefits to try to help America survive the crisis. Yet those measures are only temporary. And for millions of newly unemployed, they may not be enough. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




A “Sorry We’re Cursed’ sign hangs on the window of Locust Tattoo Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Congress, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve have mounted the largest financial intervention in history a full-scale drive that includes mandating sick leave for some, distributing $1,200 checks to individuals, allocating rescue aid to employers and expanding unemployment benefits to try to help America survive the crisis. Yet those measures are only temporary. And for millions of newly unemployed, they may not be enough. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




People line up outside the Utah Department of workforce Services Monday, April 13, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Congress, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve have mounted the largest financial intervention in history a full-scale drive that includes mandating sick leave for some, distributing $1,200 checks to individuals, allocating rescue aid to employers and expanding unemployment benefits to try to help America survive the crisis. Yet those measures are only temporary. And for millions of newly unemployed, they may not be enough. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, center, looks on as a plane filled with personal protective equipment is unloaded at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. “We are in a wartime environment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, center, holds protective eye wear that came off a plane filled with personal protective equipment at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist from the Utah Department of Health, speaks during the daily COVID-19 coronavirus briefing Monday, April 6, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)




The Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center deployed a second BLU-MED tent on April 15, according to a press release.




St. George area resident John Olsen holds up a homemade sign in protest of the closure of Utah’s non-essential businesses due to the COVID-19 coronavirus by Gov. Gary Herbert at the ‘Walk for Freedom’ event in St. George on April 15, 2020.




Director Kevin Lewis discusses the state of emergency during a special session of the Washington County Commission Friday, March 20, 2020.




A Co-Diagnostics lab technician manufactures COVID-19 testing kits Friday, March 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City. The company says it has the capacity to produce 50,000 test kits daily from its Salt Lake City facility. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




In this April 3, 2020, photo, a technician holds blue preservation solution in a clean room where saliva collection devices are assembled at Spectrum DNA in Draper, Utah. The company has developed a test kit to detect the coronavirus in patients’ saliva. At least two Utah companies have developed tests and gotten emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: molecular diagnostics company Co-Diagnostics and ancestry-testing kit maker Spectrum DNA. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)




Xetava Garden’s employees hand out food and supplies to food service employees displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.



19/19 SLIDES

Health officials reported three new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in southwest Utah on Thursday, leaving the total number at 61 cases since the virus hit the area last month.

The southwest district, which includes five counties, had counted 41 cases in Washington County, 16 in Iron County, three in Kane County, one in Garfield County and none in Beaver County, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Two people were still hospitalized on Wednesday, while 38 people had been hospitalized but recovered. One person, a woman from Iron County, had died.

© Provided by Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center
The Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center deployed a second BLU-MED tent on April 15, according to a press release.

The statewide totals showed 141 new cases across Utah, with 2,683 cases total. Two hundred and thirty-eight people have been hospitalized and 21 have died.

The highest totals so far have been in Salt Lake County, with 1,377 cases, followed by Utah County with 387 and Summit County with 308.

The new figures come as the state has started asking more residents to consider getting tested for the virus, even if they only some of the associated symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough, a fever, or shortness of breath.

READ MORE: Online ‘symptom checker’ to help Utahns decide if they should be tested for coronavirus

As of Thursday, 49,678 people had been tested. About 5% of those tests were turning up positive.

U.S. deaths spiked to a daily high of almost 2,500 as of early Thursday, although the impact of a decision by federal health officials to include deaths “probably” caused by the coronavirus pandemic was not immediately clear.

What is clear is that the outbreak has now claimed more than 31,000 lives across the nation and almost 140,000 worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases has surpassed 2 million globally – including nearly 640,000 in the U.S.

David DeMille

Unemployment report shows 100,000-plus new filings in past month

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Unemployment slowed in Utah last week but jobless claims remained at historic levels as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the worldwide economy, state officials said Thursday.

About 24,000 more people filed for unemployment benefits in Utah last week, bringing the four-week total to 106,000. That is a staggering figure that easily surpassed the total of 63,000 claims from all of 2019, said Kevin Burt, Utah Department of Workforce Services’ Unemployment Insurance Division director.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 24,000 new unemployment filings in Utah as federal assistance takes effect

The claims filed each of the past four weeks were more than any single week on record, including during the height of the Great Recession in 2009 when the high was about 5,000 in one week, Burt said.

Yet, there are some indications the worst may have passed in Utah.

The total for the week that ended April 11 marked a 27% decrease from the week before. This current week is also trending down, Burt said.

Utah’s woes mirror national trends. The U.S. government said 5.2 million more people applied for unemployment benefits last week. The four-week total of 22 million is easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. The losses amount to about 1 in 7 workers.

Associated Press

St. George area tourism losing missions each week

© Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News
Director Kevin Lewis discusses the state of emergency during a special session of the Washington County Commission Friday, March 20, 2020.

Washington County’s tourism-based economy has taken a nosedive — and it likely won’t start to get better for at least a few more months.

Statewide projections put the state at reaching a peak in the coronavirus outbreak on April 25, but the travel industry in the southwest corner of Utah isn’t likely to see a positive uptick until at least late summer, Washington County Director of Tourism Kevin Lewis predicted.

READ MORE: Millions lost each week to tourism dropoff, Southern Utah hopes for late summer return

“It’s likely going to be late summer before we start to see any real signs of recovery in the tourism market, simply because of all the different factors that play into this,” Lewis said in a meeting with Washington county leaders on Wednesday. “It’s not just if we’re clear and everything is good here. It’s so dependent on what everyone else’s circumstances are.”

Nationwide weekly travel revenue has dropped 85% since February, according to a presentation by Lewis. Travel restrictions and stay-at-home recommendations came out in mid-March, and charts presented by Lewis show a steep dropoff then. In Washington County, cancelations at hotels and major events have led to millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Lexi Peery

‘Walk of Freedom’ protest held in St. George

© Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News
Community members gather at the Washington County Administration Building to challenge state directives and express their desire to reopen businesses around the county Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

Dozens of St. George residents gathered Wednesday for a walk to protest the state’s closures of businesses and facilities due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

St. George resident Larry Meyers created a Facebook group to organize the event in an effort to “assert our God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, religious freedom, the right to contract, and the right to use our property as we see fit so long as we do not harm others” according to Meyers’ original post in the group.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Southern Utahns gather for ‘Walk for Freedom’ to protest COVID-19 closures

Meyers says that he has received input from members of the community who felt that their rights have been taken away and that Gov. Herbert and local officials should lift the coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and other organizations.

“I had a lot of friends who said that they wanted to express themselves, that they were tired of the restrictions and they wanted to get their businesses going or get back to work and normal life,” Meyers said.

Utah sees 20th death involving COVID-19

The state reported its 20th death involving COVID-19, a Salt Lake County man around 60 who had underlying health conditions and died in a hospital. Utah has about 2,500 virus cases and has tested nearly 47,000 people, state figures show.

State health officials believe about 15% of the infected people contracted the virus from community spread while 70% had direct contact with someone who was sick, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn said. About 11% of the cases involved travel and 4% involved health care workers.

Associated Press

Utah to offer daycare grant program

Utah will start taking applications for a grant from federal funds to help day care centers that remain open during the pandemic. About 38% of licensed day care centers in the state have closed and those still open are struggling, said Tracy Gruber, executive director of the Utah Office of Child Care. The funds can be used to pay rent, salaries, buy supplies and adapt to meet new safety standards. The money comes from $40 million Utah received from the federal stimulus package for child care programs.

The goal is to help keep the centers open and to be ready when people go back to work, Gruber said.

PPE flown into Utah

© Rick Bowmer, AP
A masked traveler walks from the ticket counter at the Salt Lake City International Airport Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Salt Lake City. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

 A plane carrying millions of pieces personal protective bear such as gowns, masks, face shields and hand sanitizing wipes arrived to Salt Lake City Wednesday in the first of several shipments of items from China arranged by Utah tech companies. Businesses such as software company DOMO are working with Utah state officials to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Domo recently had to lay off about 10% of its workforce due to the economic impact of the pandemic. DOMO CEO Josh James was at a news conference Wednesday alongside Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to tout the partnership between private business and the public sector.

Associated Press

Widespread screening planned in homeless shelters

Widespread coronavirus screening and testing of people in two Salt Lake County homeless shelters has begun, officials said Wednesday. After two people tested positive at the Men’s Resource Center in South Salt Lake, officials began testing everyone in the 300-bed facility Monday. At the 300-bed family shelter in Midvale, officials began screening and testing as needed on Tuesday. People who test positive will be taken to a separate facility in the county to recover in isolation.

Read more coronavirus coverage:

What’s open, what’s closed in Southern Utah as coronavirus, stay-at-home becomes the norm

What Southern Utahns should expect when getting tested for the coronavirus

Coronavirus has everything closed but here is how you can still get food from St. George restaurants

What does it mean to stay at home and answers to your other coronavirus questions

Washington County recognizes community service

Washington County Commissioners designated April 7, 2020 National Service Recognition Day during its regular commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. The declaration recognizes the “positive impact” of service while thanking those who have served and encouraging people to find ways to give back to their communities.

Commissioner Gil Almquist read the local declaration that he said “coincides” with the service done in the community due to the coronavirus pandemic. The commissioners voted unanimously to recognize the efforts made within the community to help those in need, especially in light of the restrictions and business shutdowns from COVID-19.

“I think more so than at any other time in recent history … have we come together to help our citizens that are feeling helpless,” Almquist said during the meeting.

Commission Chair Victor Iverson said that the organization of Facebook groups quickly after the coronavirus spread to the state was commendable. 

“We couldn’t get ahead of our citizens, who were so anxious to serve,” Iverson said Tuesday. “The citizens of this county amaze me in their willingness to serve.”

-Lexi Peery

Mobile testing sites coming to rural Utah

© Rick Bowmer, AP
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert puts on a mask that came off a plane filled with personal protective equipment at the Delta Hanger Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Salt Lake International Airport. The first of several planes filled with personal protective equipment touched down in Utah, delivering masks and eye protection for health care workers throughout the state. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Utah Department of Heath is working directly with Southwest Local Health District to ensure Southern Utah has the testing capacity to identify those with COVID-19, according to State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn.

She also said the Utah Department of Health is rolling out mobile coronavirus testing sites this week in rural areas of the state, though it’s unclear if any are immediately coming to Southern Utah.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Mobile COVID-19 testing sites coming to rural Utah this week

However, Dunn said due to Park City having been a “huge hot spot” for the virus, the state is first focusing on testing the counties around Summit County.

“We want to make sure we’re identifying any bleeding into other local counties, then work in some hot spot counties in rural settings,” she said.

She also said packets of personal protection equipment are going out to all health care systems, including those in rural areas.

“So they’re getting kind of the same effort of supplies and PPE that the Wasatch Front hospitals are getting as well,” she said.

-Kaitlyn Bancroft

Herbert orders Zion National Park to close

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced late Friday the closure of Utah’s Zion National Park.

Calls for the park to close had been mounting as local governments expressed worry that visitors to the park could be bringing COVID-19 to the area. Park officials had told local leaders that as much as half of the park’s traffic in recent days was from out-of-state.

More: Utah governor closes Zion National Park after calls to do so from St. George, Springdale, Rockville

-Lexi Peery

St. George to furlough some workers

Some St. George city employees are being furloughed because of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The Leisure Services Department is being hit hardest — around 150 part-time employees aren’t getting any hours at this time, according to city spokesperson David Cordero.

Leisure Services include recreation, art and aquatics, where many events have been canceled and programs have been halted.

-Lexi Peery

Utah landlords barred from evicting tenants through May 15

During his daily briefing, Gov. Herbert issued an executing order allowing tenants across the state to defer rental payments until May 15.

Landlords cannot initiate eviction proceedings until May 15 as well.

“No one should fear that they are going to be evicted because their financial health has been hit by this crisis,” Gov. Herbert said.

-Terell Wilkins

This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Coronavirus updates: Southwest Utah counts 3 new COVID-19 cases; statewide total at 2,683



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