Salt Lake City Suffers 5.7-Magnitude Earthquake, Knocks out Utah's Coronavirus Hotline

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck just outside Salt Lake City, Utah early Wednesday, knocking out the state's coronavirus hotline, the governor said. It was the state's largest earthquake since 1992, according to Utah Emergency Management.

Along with the hotline, the Salt Lake City Airport was also knocked out of operation, officials said, as was power for tens of thousands in the area. Rocky Main Power's website reported that more than 47,000 customers in the area were without power. The quake was centered about 10 miles west of Salt Lake City and very near the city of Magna, starting at 7:09 a.m. MT, the US Geological Survey said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall warned of aftershocks. "I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are, and it sounds like aftershocks are likely," Mendenhall tweeted. "The city is assessing the situation now and I'll circle back with an update when I have it. Be safe." In fact, at least six aftershocks had been recorded within 20 minutes of the main quake, according to the USGS.

Gov. Gary Herbert asked Utah residents to stay away from the downtown area while crews assess damage. "Unless you work in public safety, or are an essential employee, remain at home or telework," he said.

In general, earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 happen once every 10 years in Utah, and quakes greater than magnitude 6 happen once every 50 years in Utah, according to the USGS. That statistic takes into account instrumentation records dating back to 1962, and historical records dating back to the 1850s.

The quake comes as Utah residents, along with those across the nation and world, are adjusting to changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, which includes school closures, limited mass gatherings, and telecommuting orders.

Globally, more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, with 8,248 deaths and 82,091 recoveries. In the United States, there are 6,519 confirmed cases across all 50 states with 114 deaths, according to data aggregated by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Centers for Systems Science and Engineering.

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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he would temporarily close the U.S. border with Canada to "non-essential traffic" amid the pandemic. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada would be closing its borders to foreigners with the exception of U.S. citizens and permanent residents but at press time had not commented on Trump's remarks Wednesday.

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