The quake was the most powerful to hit the state since 1992

By Rachel DeSantis
March 18, 2020 12:59 PM
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Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook Utah early Wednesday, prompting more than a dozen aftershocks and knocking out the state’s coronavirus hotline.

The quake hit just after 7 a.m. local time, and was felt throughout the Wasatch Front area of north-central Utah, the University of Utah Seismograph Stations said in a press release.

The initial earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including 20 of magnitude 3.0 or larger during the first hour, and two of magnitude 4.0 or larger, the stations said.

The Utah Department of Health announced shortly after the quake that “due to this morning’s earthquakes and evacuations at our call centers, the Utah COVID-19 Information Line is down until further notice.”

The department followed up 30 minutes later with the number for a temporary line: 1-844-442-5224.

The state of Utah has 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the New York Times. At least 5,881 people have tested positive for the virus across the country, and 107 people have died.

“It’s pretty hard when you have coronavirus plus this, but we’re working together,” Stephanie Draper of Magna told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We haven’t heard of anyone that’s hurt.”

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The earthquake occurred in a seismically active part of the Salt Lake Valley that’s seen six magnitude 3.0 or larger earthquakes since 1962, according to the press release.

It was the largest earthquake to hit the state since a 5.9 magnitude struck St. George in 1992, Utah Emergency Management said.

Utah earthquake damage

“It didn’t feel like a small earthquake at all,” Michael McCarlie of Salt Lake City told the Deseret News. “I heard things in my kitchen falling.”

The quake also reportedly caused damage to the Salt Lake City International Airport, downtown buildings and the Salt Lake Temple.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.