San Juan County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, camping banned for non-residents


March 27, 2020

Note: An earlier version of this article included a picture of a clinic in San Juan County. The location of the confirmed case is not known to the Canyon Echo and the image was not meant to indicate anything other than a reminder to practice social distancing and good hygiene.

On Friday morning, the San Juan Public Health Department (SJPH) announced San Juan County has its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus.

The patient is an adult male below the age of 65, and the individual’s community of residence has not yet been announced.

In a joint statement with the Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS) and the Navajo Department of Health (NDOH), the public health department said, “We continue to expect and prepare for additional cases of COVID-19 in our community.”

San Juan County has not yet issued a stay-at-home order, but public health officials updated an emergency order on Friday, which bans gatherings of more than ten people and directs individuals to avoid “leisure travel.”

San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson announced on Facebook Friday that the county was now closed to camping for non-residents, both in designated campgrounds and dispersed campsites on public lands.

“It should be noted that all campers are currently being contacted by law enforcement officers to ensure compliance with the San Juan Public Health Order and closure signage is being established at popular camping locations. Citations can and will be issued, especially in instances of repeat offenders,” Torgerson said.

Blanding City and Monticello City police departments, the Utah Highway Patrol, BLM, and National Park Service will be assisting with the order, Torgerson added.

Hotels and RV parks are also closed to non-residents.

The health department urges the public to continue practicing social distancing:
● Do not gather in groups of more than 10 people.
● If you are sick, STAY HOME.
● Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
● Sneeze or cough into the inside of your elbow and disinfect frequently used items and surfaces often.
● All nonessential travel is discouraged.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to seasonal influenza – namely: fever, cough, and fatigue. These symptoms on their own are not worrisome and should not cause alarm. If symptoms get worse rapidly or you experience difficulty breathing, you should immediately notify your healthcare provider,” SJPH said.

UNHS implemented drive-thru screenings at its clinics last week to protect patients and staff.

“Please call your healthcare provider prior to visiting,” SJPH continued. “Calling your provider prior to your clinic visit protects patients, staff, and our community.”

Bluff issued greater restrictions on Wednesday, including the closure of hotels, motels, VRBO/Airbnbs, campgrounds, and RV parks.

The Navajo Nation issued a stay-at-home order for all of its residents earlier this week, with exceptions only for essential travel to grocery stores and medical services.

A different San Juan County resident living in the Salt Lake valley tested positive earlier this week, but the patient had no recent travel history to the southeastern part of the state.

Read the county’s public health order from Friday