Woman who traveled extensively 2nd with coronavirus in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman older than 60 who had traveled recently to Florida, Nevada and the Bahamas is the second person in Utah to be diagnosed with the new coronavirus, health officials said Tuesday.
Like the first person, health officials believe the woman contracted the virus while traveling outside of Utah though they don’t know where because she had traveled extensively, said state epidemiologist Angela Dunn. She was not a cruise ship and hadn’t traveled to countries being hit hard by the spread of the virus such as China, Italy and Iran, Dunn said.
The woman started out with a cough and fever that led to more severe respiratory symptoms that led to her hospitalization, Dunn said. She was tested for coronavirus Saturday and the test came back positive Monday. The woman is in stable condition at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden.
No community spread has been identified in Utah, but residents over 60 should be extra cautious about traveling or attending large events and be prepared with enough food and medicine if they have to self-isolate for 14 days, she said.
State health officials and those near the patient’s home in the Weber-Morgan County area are working to identify and contact anyone who may have been in close contact with the person.
The news comes a day after Brigham Young University reported that the first person diagnosed with the virus, a man from Davis County, had attended a basketball game there in late February. Authorities are contacting those people seated closest to him, but say the risk to others is low. Some fans stormed the court after the home team’s victory over Gonzaga that night, but the man wasn’t among them, Dunn said Tuesday.
Health officials believe he was exposed to the virus while a passenger on a recent cruise on the Grand Princess cruise ship. —the same ship where 21 of the current passengers have tested positive for coronavirus. The Utah man was not aboard that cruise, but a previous one. He is now doing well, Dunn said.
The two people with the virus are not related, Dunn said. The woman did not go to any large events after her travels, she said.
Anyone who has traveled recently and has symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath that match the new coronavirus is asked to notify their doctor to figure out the next steps.
Public health professionals recommend taking preventative steps like hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow and staying home when sick.
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.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
State health officials are reaching out to anyone who returns from China and Iran and are calling them daily to ask about symptoms, Dunn said. People who return to Utah after traveling to Italy, South Korea and Japan are provided information by federal officials about how to watch for symptoms, she said.
About 100 people have been tested for the virus so far, Dunn said.
“Anything that’s unknown definitely elicits some fear,” Dunn said. “So we are working really hard to provide them support, both them and their health care providers, so they understand the situation and can keep themselves and others safe.”
Associated Press reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.