SALT LAKE CITY — It has been 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 emerged in Salt Lake County on March 4.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and Dorothy Adams, deputy director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, talked about the unprecedented response from county workers and the challenging road still ahead.
In the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Salt Lake County, the number of cases reached more than 6,000, and the number of deaths reached 86.
It has been a challenging time, and the immediate future does not look much different.
“I had hoped we would have moved beyond COVID by now, and unfortunately we haven’t,” Wilson said.
There has been no dramatic spike of cases in the county, but no decline either.
“We are still seeing growth, and I still have concerns,” Wilson said.
As Wilson looked ahead, she said she wants to enjoy normal activities as much as any of us. However, we need to remain vigilant.
“Unfortunately, we’re not done, and I feel that we’ve got to learn to live with this until we have a vaccine,” she said.
Wilson reinforced the importance of wearing masks and social distancing, just as Gov. Gary Herbert and public health officials have in recent days.
In that span, Utah saw a rise in positive COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide.
“I continue to have concerns when I go to the grocery store or run errands and see people who aren’t wearing face coverings,” said Wilson. “I’m really heartbroken that a health issue has become politicized. It’s a health issue. It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue.”
Over the past 100 days, the county set up seven quarantine and isolation facilities in empty recreation centers where 550 people have been housed.
The county also contracted with a hotel and used it for housing homeless people with underlying health conditions, preventing 150 of the most vulnerable among us from contracting COVID-19.
“So that as people were getting ill, they did not remain in those congregate settings because, as you can imagine, when you’re living side by side with people getting sick, that absolutely would be a huge problem,” Adams said.
The county put together a plan to support its underserved and vulnerable populations, and redeployed county employees to educate the homeless. They also trained 160 contact tracers to interview COVID-19 patients and trace the virus.
“We implemented a lot of very innovative things that really other states are looking at us to say, ‘How did you do that?’” said Adams.
That innovation will be critical in the second 100 days.
“This is a long journey and I think I would just encourage everyone to take it easy in a way because it’s been rough and will continue to be for some time,” said Wilson.
County leaders were proud of the way their employees have responded but, as we see from the case counts, we all need to do our part to keep limiting the spread.
More stories you may be interested in
This content was originally published here.