On Sunday, the Utah Department of Health and Mountainstar Healthcare announced the state’s first COVID-19-related death. The organizations said in a joint news release that at the time of their death, the patient, a Davis County resident, was being treated at Lakeview Hospital. They also said the patient was a male, older than the age of 60 and had underlying medical conditions. He had been hospitalized for two days prior to his death.
“First and foremost, Jeanette and I want to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual,” Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted. “The pain this family must be feeling right now puts into perspective the sacrifices we are all making to keep one another safe and healthy.”
The man tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Soon after, the Davis County Health Department started working to identify and contact anyone who could have been in direct contact with him. Those individuals will be asked to quarantine or isolate as necessary, and will be monitored by public health for fever and any respiratory symptoms, the state health department went on to say.
The day prior to the man’s death, Utah’s Coronavirus Task Force reported that 2,560 tests had been administered at public health facilities, and that there were 136 confirmed cases statewide. Forty-five new cases were reported on Sunday.
For state epidemiologist Angela Dunn, the news was rattling. “Even though we knew some Utah residents would lose their lives to this illness it is heartbreaking to announce this first death,” she said. “We share in this family’s grief and are deeply committed to doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our community.”
On Wednesday, Dunn lamented the lack of statewide testing kits during a virtual roundtable with KPBS Utah. “Testing has been a very important part of this response, but also very frustrating. We know there’s people out there that want to get tested and can’t,” she said.