After a weekend where RVs with Colorado license plates drove up and down Moab's Main Street, the Southeast Utah Health Department issued a travel advisory to the area's tourists: go home and stay home until the thread of COVID-19/coronavirus is passed.
In an order mandating hotels and restaurants to take drastic new measures, the SEUHD also included a travel advisory which describe the Moab area as "surrounded by virus activity."
"Although we currently have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in SEUHD’s jurisdiction, [as of March 17 - ed.] with cases continuing to be identified throughout the state (39 cases statewide as of Monday, March 16, 2020) as well as cases identified in Colorado and Wyoming, Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties are surrounded by virus activity," the order reads.
While stopping short of an order, the advisory continues, urging "visitors that are not here on essential business return to their home and non-essential visitors planning to come to Carbon, Emery, and Grand counties reconsider their plans and remain near their home."
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and local, state and federal officials struggle with strategy and message, local Moab residents have noted the seasonal influx of tourists and been alarmed by travelers ignoring advice from medical and health professionals urging everyone to practice social distancing, a public health term to describe staying in your own home and minimizing your exposure to public places where infection can spread.
The Health Department statement follows a strongly worded letter from the Moab Regional Hospital staff directed at Utah Governor Gary Herbert on March 16, which said read, in part, "we are now concerned that tourism will drive the spread of [COVID-19]."
As of March 17, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 in Grand County. Anyone with concerns or flu-like symptoms is instructed to call the Coronavirus Hotline at 435-719-3998.