Links to Resources:
- Unemployment benefits and job openings
Department of Workforce Services
- Rental Assistance
Salt Lake Community Action Program
Asian Association of Utah
- Medicaid Coverage
Apply for Medicaid
- Maintaining insurance benefits through COBRA
Information about COBRA
- The CARES Act – more about financial relief
Info from the Tax Foundation
UPDATE: March 25, 2020
Business leaders in the state held a Facebook Live press conference yesterday, March 24, where the “Utah Leads Together Plan” was unveiled and is summarized in this one-page description of the first of three phases, titled the Urgent Phase. In summary, the plan envisions Utah progressing through three phases of societal-level response of and recovery from the impact of Coronavirus. Successful implementation of the plan requires strict adherence to many aspects that may still not be fully embraced by communities and/or some leaders in our state.
Some other important details to know:
- TESTING: Our state’s capacity for testing for Coronavirus has increased dramatically. This may be the key to quickly identifying infection and spread, and is essential to limiting the overall impact of the pandemic. Prior to the past week, approximately 500-800 people were being tested per week. Over the course of the last week, over 2,500 tests have been completed.
- MEDICAL PERSONNEL SAFETY: The very real and significant concern about personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel has been on the minds of many. We received information yesterday that significant shipments of protective equipment have been shipped to Utah and more is on the way. They are currently being warehoused at a secure location and will be provided immediately to medical personnel as soon as they are needed. This is one very positive bit of information in a time of too much bad news.
- EVICTIONS: Conversations with legislative leadership yesterday were very productive regarding the critical need to provide more resources to financially vulnerable individuals and families. Many legislators will be working very hard in the coming days to find resources to help people avoid eviction in this time of crisis.
- SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE: Small Business Association emergency loans are now available. Visit this LINK for more information.
Finally, despite warnings and pleas to limit physical interaction, many people are disregarding the guidelines being set. Make no mistake about it, if people do not self-initiate limitations, more draconian measures will need to be taken or this disease will continue to spread at its current rapid pace. Slowing rates of transmission and infection truly is the ONLY way to survive with the health and lives of our community, as well as our economy.
The term “Social Distancing” has been used a lot, but it implies isolation. I prefer “Physical Distancing and Social Connection” as a rule of thumb. Please reach out to friends and loved ones often – pick up the phone, set up a Skype or FaceTime meeting. During stressful times like these, connection is key, but physical separation is absolutely crucial.
PLEASE AVOID PHYSICAL CONTACT.
IT COULD VERY WELL SAVE THE LIFE OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE.
For more information about Coronavirus and COVID-19 in Utah,
visit this LINK.
March 18, 2020
I’ve participated in three different conference calls today with a number of leaders and stakeholders and have some updates about the COVID-19 situation in Utah:
From the Utah Department of Health:
- Processing COVID-19 tests is occurring at three locations: ARUP laboratories, Intermountain Health Care, and the Utah State Laboratory. The earthquake during the morning of March 18 caused the State Laboratory to temporarily cease test processing, but will resume within 24 hours
- Approximately 400 tests per day are being processed between the three labs with anticipated capacity reaching at least 1,000 per day by next week
- The bottleneck for COVID-19 testing and treatment continues to be the test kits. We received news that a Utah company received FDA approval just today (3/18) for their test kits, but the reagent needed to render the kits useful is still in short supply. It is anticipated that the reagent should be available and shipped to Utah in the coming days (more info to follow as details become available)
From the Division of Emergency Management:
- Focus today, March 18, has been in response to this morning’s earthquake and the dozens of aftershocks. As of now, there are no reported deaths and only one injury reported in the state. An estimated 50,000 Utahns experienced power outages today, and Rocky Mountain Power anticipates that all power will be restored before the end of the day today
- A request for a Small Business Administration Disaster Relief program has been submitted and will ideally be approved in the coming days. Once approved, small businesses in Utah can apply for funding to bridge the severe decrease in business income that many are currently experiencing. Visit this LINK for more information
- The Div. of Emergency Mgmt and local authorities have identified a local hotel (as yet undisclosed) to serve as a quarantine location for individuals who have tested positive but who cannot safely quarantine at home. Information about this will be added as it becomes available.
Childcare for Essential Employees: New Task Force Created:
- A new task force is currently creating Phase I of a plan to provide safe child care for critical employees whose services are essential to the response and recovery of COVID-19 pandemic. Services will first be available for those workers whose services are the most needed.
- Childcare centers that have been closed will be re-opened with specific protocol and oversight in order to protect children and childcare workers
- Looking forward, Phase II may include resources such as schools but will include careful limitations about numbers of children and workers, and will seek to ensure social distancing protocol and disease prevention
- Also, resources to crowdsource information about where and what supplies are most needed for community members, and how those needs can be met, is being discussed. More info to follow
From the Utah Hospital Association:
- One of the most critical shortages being experienced in healthcare facilities is Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), which includes masks, gowns, gloves, etc., that enable healthcare providers to protect themselves while treating patients. Currently, emergency stores in the US are already being disseminated, but overseas supplies from countries like China, who have already been significantly affected, are exacerbating this problem at home. Solutions to this are not clear at this time, and discussions continue
From the Department of Transportation:
- Minor but necessary fixes to the control tower at the airport are underway and the airport is expected to resume operations tomorrow, March 19
- Over 500 bridges have been inspected, post-earthquake, and only one in the Wasatch Front has been deemed unsafe: the west-bound ramp on Union Park Ave and I-215 will be closed for the foreseeable future
- No significant traffic issues have been noted and all stop lights are currently working
Regarding the Economy in Utah:
- The number of unemployment claims filed in the past few days have been record-setting, with the vast majority coming from our food service and entertainment industries. In a typical year, approximately 8,000 claims are filed per year, yet in the past 30 days, the claims have nearly reached that level. However, the Department of Workforce Services claims that there are 20,000 jobs currently available in Utah. Visit this LINK for more information
- The Utah legislature currently has over $500 million in rainy day funding, and an additional $70 million in funding that had been tentatively earmarked for tax refunds. Current conversations indicate that the $70 million may instead be set aside in order to shore up the anticipated increased needs for social services. In addition, Utah still maintains a strong credit rating and has the option to free up additional state funding if needed
Other Items of Note:
- Subsequent to today’s earthquake, Kennecot experienced a chemical leak. Portions of SR-201 have been closed for cleanup. No injuries were reported as a result and no known residential areas have been affected
- Due to a delay by the federal government regarding tax due dates, the Utah State Legislature may need to call a special session in order to manage state income, since state revenue arriving on time will be impacted
- Utah Medicaid has a $57 million rainy day fund. This will be critical in making sure that all of Utah’s low income individuals have access to the healthcare they need in the coming weeks and months
- As of today (3/18), 63 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed out of 1,200 tests being conducted
- It is anticipated by many that the school closures in Utah will continue past March 30. Decisions like these will likely be made in two-week increments
Finally, scroll to the bottom of this page for links to more information about COVID-19
The situation around the global pandemic of Coronavirus is unsettling and is evolving at a very rapid pace. I will do my best to update this page with critical information and updates as they become available. Please see the links below for critical information, but also, please take note of the following:
The importance of Physical Distancing can not be overstated. Please do not take requests to stay home lightly. This really, truly is the lynchpin of whether this crisis will be a crisis that can be handled or if it will lead to more devastating outcomes for our communities. Limiting physical contact will literally save lives.
###Please Note: as this situation evolves, guidelines and resources change. The information below will be updated accordingly and will include science-based recommendations that are in line with current best practices and up-to-date public health knowledge.###
Regarding symptoms and testing for Coronavirus:
If you know or think you may have been in contact with individuals who have been diagnosed or are symptomatic for Coronavirus, act as if you’ve been infected and do the following:
- Do not leave your home – you MUST self-quarantine, even if you are not symptomatic.
- If you have symptoms of Corona Virus, call your physician or other healthcare provider to explain your symptoms and follow their directions.
- As of March 25, testing is widely available. Whether or not you test positive for Coronavirus, in most cases, decisions about how to respond will likely fall within the following guidelines:
- If you DO have Corona Virus, (for the majority of people) you will need to stay home and treat the symptoms of the virus, being scrupulously careful about avoiding infecting anyone else.
- If you DON’T have Corona virus but you have viral symptoms like fever, cough, etc., you will need to stay home and treat the symptoms of whatever other virus you have.
- If you do have the virus, do not assume that you will need to be hospitalized. If everyone who is positive for the virus is hospitalized, our hospitals and clinics will quickly become overwhelmed and we will lose control over the ability to help those who most need crisis-level health services.
- Do not be cavalier about going out into public. If you absolutely must go, be very careful about the surfaces that you touch. It is very important that everyone who can stay home must stay home. It is not overstating the situation by saying that the only way to minimize the impact of this pandemic is to limit person-to-person contact.
- Currently, restaurant dining options are limited to delivery or take-out where curb-side pick-up is available. Please do support local restaurants when you are able and it is safe to do so.
- Wash your hands at every opportunity. Hand sanitizer is a great tool, but it is becoming more scarce. Hand washing with soap is at least as effective.
If you can be helpful for friends and neighbors, please do. There are countless people in our state who are highly vulnerable to the economic impact that this crisis will create. If there is any opportunity at all for you to avoid going to work, please do so, but also seek out opportunities to help other community members weather this storm.
Please check back regularly for updates and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions that I can answer or find answers to.
LINKS TO INFORMATION AND RESOURCES REGARDING COVID-19
U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC): INFO Page
Utah State Department of Health: INFO Page
Utah Governor Gary Herbert: INFO Page
Salt Lake City School District: INFO Page
Salt Lake Community College: INFO Page
And because it is an election year and the Primary and General Elections stand to be impacted, here is some critical information about important changes that will be made for the 2020 cycle:
Information about the Utah Democratic Caucus and Convention: LINK
Information about the Utah Republican Caucus and Convention: LINK