COVID-19 Weekly Update

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the sunshine and warmer temperatures this last week. In addition to the beautiful weather, I’m encouraged that as a state we’ve taken important steps forward to slowly begin returning to life as normal.

On May 4th, the Utah Department of Health reported 124,661 COVID-19 tests administered, 5,317 positive tests, 441 hospitalizations and 50 fatalities. An estimated 1,790 citizens have now recovered.

Last week, in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health and the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission, Gov. Herbert announced Utah’s plan to transition from a high risk “urgent” phase to the moderate “stabilization” phase of the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan beginning Friday, May 1. This new phase will allow the reopening of personal care facilities, like gyms and salons, and reestablish in-house dining in restaurants providing they follow required precautions. This reopening is exciting but does not represent a complete return to business as usual. We will venture into this new phase while incorporating important public health precautions. This is a slow change, but it is certainly a step in a positive direction. In addition to businesses reopening, individuals and families in good health will be able to interact in groups of up to 20 people. You can read more about this plan here.

The Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission specific recommended guidelines for individuals and businesses for how the state can safely transition to the stabilization phase can be found here.

It is exciting to move forward with these changes, but citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing, wear a mask and stay home when sick. For those who do not currently have access to a mask, the state has partnered with the Utah Manufacturers Association to provide two million masks to Utahns. These masks are federally funded with money received through the CARES act. There is a limit of one mask per person and six per household. If you do not already have a mask, you may request one at coronavirus.utah.gov/mask.

FAQs

Q- Is Utah going to purchase hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19?

A- About a month ago, a state office purchased 20,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine. At the time, the federal government indicated hydroxychloroquine would soon be in short supply nationwide and these types of drugs seemed promising. Current reports on these drugs have mixed results on efficacy, though there were some promising reports about the role of antiviral medications in treating COVID-19. We are in a fast-changing environment with new information becoming available all the time.
Gov. Herbert announced efforts to purchase additional supplies of hydroxychloroquine have ceased and did an internal review of the March 31 purchase of compounded chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine from the pharmacy Meds in Motion. The review determined all involved acted proactively, preemptively and prudently during an emergency in an effort to help save lives. The authorized purchase was executed by the Division of State Purchasing and General Services at a fair price. While there were breakdowns in communication between state agencies, all involved acted in good faith.

Since the purchase by state agencies, and prior to taking possession of the medication, the state determined the supply of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine is no longer needed. The $800,000 purchase has been refunded. Discussion on the costs of this purchase was done without the involvement of the legislature, governor or lieutenant governor.

During an unprecedented global health crisis, the state is trying to prepare for various situations. We want to make sure we support our physicians and COVID-19 patients have access to treatment options. The University of Utah, Intermountain Healthcare and many others are currently conducting clinical studies for possible treatments for COVID-19.As a legislature, we have authorized funding to be set aside for medications that may be helpful in combating COVID-19.The funding is intended to enable state agencies to pursue potential treatments to help treat patients during the COVID-19 health crisis.

In the News

Governor Herbert Announces a Mask for Every Utahn
Some Businesses Closed Due to COVID-19 Can Reopen Friday, Herbert Says
Most Utah State Parks Open to Residents of All Counties
Trump Orders Meat Processing Plants to Remain Open

What do you think?

You can connect to me online via Facebook (Senator Lyle W. Hillyard) or on Twitter (@senlylehillyard). I can also be reached by email at lhillyard@le.utah.gov or by phone at 435-757-0194.

Senator Lyle Hillyard