On Sunday evening, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a state of emergency as well as a new statewide mask mandate amid a surge in coronavirus cases. The call for action comes as Utah’s hospitals reach capacity and healthcare workers become overwhelmed.
According to the Utah Department of Health, COVID-19 related hospitalizations have increased 400% in the last eight weeks. Last week, Utah experienced its worst numbers yet, with a 7-day average of 2,289 cases and a positivity rate of 20%.
“Our hospitals in Utah are among the best in the world. But they cannot give the best care when hospitals are at capacity and medical professionals are exhausted and spread too thin, and that is what is happening now,” Herbert said during his address. “In our war against COVID-19, we need our doctors and our nurses. And now, they need us.”
According to a press release by the UDOH, the new restrictions begin at 1 p.m. Monday and will remain in effect through Nov. 23. The orders include:
- Place the entire state under a mask mandate. Under this requirement, all Utahns must wear masks in public, and when within six feet of anyone they don’t live with. This mandate is also enforceable in business settings, which must require employees to wear masks, promote patrons to wear masks, and post signage to that effect. Businesses that fail to do so will be subject to fines. Please note that even after the orders issued today expire, the mask mandate will be extended for the foreseeable future.
- Limit casual social gatherings to household-only until Nov. 23.
- Put all extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events, on hold for the duration of the order.
- This does not limit intercollegiate athletic events, or practices and games associated with high school championships, that follow instructions for testing and limiting crowd size, as detailed in the order.
- Beginning as soon as possible, but no later than Jan. 1, 2021, students enrolled at public and private institutions of higher education, who either live on campus or attend at least one in-person class per week will be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Herbert noted that these orders do not require any closures of businesses or churches, but require all parties to maintain social distancing.
In a Monday morning email, the SLCC COVID-19 Task Force explained that in the coming days SLCC will announce how students can support the effort of testing all who attend in-person classes. They stressed their commitment to implementing a comprehensive testing program for students and will provide more details soon via email and the #SLCCSafe website.
Visit coronavirus.utah.gov for more information on the Utah COVID-19 State of Emergency.