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50 people with 'close contact' to Utah COVID-19 patient tracked by health department

Coronavirus concerns in Davis County (2).png
50 people with 'close contact' to Utah COVID-19 patient tracked by health department (Photo: NIAID-RML)

Officials with the Davis County Health Department say they identified 50 people who came into close contact for a prolonged period of time with the Utah patient who tested positive for COVID-19.

For privacy reasons, health officials did not say who the 50 people are.

“We do our best in that interview of where that individual has been and who they know they've been in contact with,” Brian Hatch, the director of the Davis County Health Department, told 2News on Monday.

With the assistance of the Utah Department of Health, officials tracked them all down in a process called "contact tracing." It starts by asking the first patient extensive questions about who they came into close contact with, which usually involves family, friends, and neighbors.

“We will monitor them, we'll call them each day to make sure they haven't developed symptoms,” Hatch said.

Hatch says they're only interested in "close encounters for a prolonged period of time."

“Just walking down the street, you're probably at a very, very low risk of coming into contact with it.”

Health department staff then isolate the close contacts for between two and 14 days, depending on when they came into contact with the patient.

“And that's how we control the spread of disease when we have these types of situations,” Hatch said.

Davis County is only testing those showing symptoms and, so far, all tests have come back negative, which Hatch says “is reassuring, that we're keeping things a little in control there.”

Hatch says the COVID-19 patient was at a BYU basketball game 16 days ago, which is longer than the 14-day full period a person can show symptoms for the virus.

“Because they’re already outside the window, if they aren’t’ sick, then there really isn’t any problem, so everything should be just fine.”

The Utah Department of Health can test up to 60 samples a day. A spokesperson didn't say how many are on hand, but added they're not near capacity and have enough to meet current demand.

For more information about coronavirus preparation in Utah, visit coronavirus.utah.gov.

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