Utah will start monitoring travelers coming into the state for coronavirus

20200408 Herbert Presser

Utah will begin stopping travelers coming into the state to ask them if they are exhibiting any symptoms from the coronavirus and determine their final destination in an effort to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday that officials will begin monitoring nine points of entry and Salt Lake City Airport to keep tabs on travelers coming into the state beginning Friday. The order will apply to every traveler 18 years and older. 

“This will allow us to protect us and slow down the spread of the coronavirus as we find people that come into our area that may be carrying the infection,” said Herbert.

Travelers will be asked whether they have been tested for COVID-19 in the past 14 days and whether they are experiencing any symptoms associated with the virus.

The Utah Department of Transportation has identified nine entry points on the state’s highways that most travelers use to come into the state. Cars entering the state at those nine points will receive a text message through the wireless emergency alert system asking them to stop driving and visit a website to fill out the travel declaration, which will include their personal information. That data will be stored on a secure system with the Utah Department of Health.

“If you imagine a scenario where somebody self-identified themselves as exhibiting symptoms of the virus, the Department of Health will have the ability to contact them to recommend that they quarantine for 14 days. This will allow us to manage those folks who are entering our state and help us control the virus,” said UDOT Executive Carlos Braceras.

Visitors exiting the Salt Lake City Airport will be given cards with a QR code so they can visit the website from their phones to fill out the information.

“This is really a crucial next step for us as a state to make sure we’re implementing as many appropriate measures as we can to slow the spread of this highly contagious virus,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Mendenhall added these new measures will go a long way toward slowing down the pandemic.

“We have to keep moving forward and evolving quickly with new methods as this situation evolves. Salt Lake City Airport is one of the largest points of entry to the state. These steps we’re announcing today will bring us greater assurances that we’re doing what we can to be safe,” she said.

Additionally, UDOT will be installing no-touch temperature sensors at the airport to monitor whether passengers may be running a fever.

Gov. Herbert says the state will likely be able to use some federal monies to pay for the new technology needed for the new program.