Gov. Herbert: Utah Could Move To ‘Moderate’ Risk Level Next Week

Apr 24, 2020, 3:22 PM | Updated: 9:26 pm
Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during the state's daily COVID-19 press conference on April 24, 2020....
Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during the state's daily COVID-19 press conference on April 24, 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert said Utah could move from a “high” risk level to “moderate” risk as early as next week.

The governor made the announcement during the state’s daily COVID-19 update on Friday, saying politics and fearmongering were not playing a role in the decision.

“The data is going to drive us,” he said. I want the people of Utah to know, as soon as possible, I plan to change the risk category as early as next week, May 1.”

Herbert said the public needs to focus on three things as the state progresses to the moderate risk status:

  • Be exceedingly careful to protect high-risk populations
  • Stay informed, specifically by monitoring the state’s COVID-19 website
  • Be vigilant by practicing social distancing and good hygiene

“This plan is not my plan. It’s our plan,” Herbert said. “We have responsibilities, all of us to follow the directions and the guidelines to help us. They’re put in place to protect not only our own health, but our families, our friends, our loved ones and people in the community at large.”

The move into the “stabilization” phases of Utah Leads Together 2.0 would open key parts of the economy in parts of the state and allow some restaurants to reopen their dining rooms with limitations.

Gov. Herbert said parts of the state could move into the “moderate” risk area next week. (Utah Coronavirus Task Force)

The governor said those limitations could include screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19, creating additional spacing in dining rooms and limiting capacity.

However, Herbert said this does not mean Utah is going back to business as usual and hotspots could move back into high-risk territory.

“We’re about managing risk,” he said. “There is no belief we can get to zero risk. That’s never been the case in life and certainly not the case in this (situation).”

As the threat continues to subside, Herbert warned Utah would still see months of a “new normal.”

“That’s the new normal for right now. We’ll be living with this for a while,” he said. “This is not going to go away overnight. It’s going to take us a while. If we continue to do our part, make these our new habits and follow this routine, we’ll get there quicker.

The governor called it a work in progress and any decision to change the risk level would be done with deference to local health departments.

We’re not going to be willy nilly in how we give directions out there,” he said. “It’s going to be based on the data – medical advice that we receive.”

Some of the numbers Herbert said officials were looking at included hospitalization and infection rates.

Less than 17% of the state’s ICU beds and around five percent of non-ICU beds were being utilized. Herbert said the low, non-ICU bed occupation rate was a factor in allowing elective surgeries to resume.

He also said they are working towards reopening some national parks at the beginning of May.

The governor also addressed a recent state purchase of 20,000 units of hydroxychloroquine that cost $800,000. He said the purchase is under further review by the state’s legal counsel and negotiations for additional supplies have ceased.

Daily Utah Coronavirus Task Force Update

LIVE: Gov. Gary Herbert, Dr. Angela Dunn and state officials are holding their daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Friday, April 24, 2020

At the beginning of the press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn announced four more virus-related deaths and 170 confirmed cases in the state.

Three lived in long-term care facilities associated with an outbreak. The fourth victim was hospitalized at the time of death and had underlying medical conditions.

Three victims were from Salt Lake County and the other was from Utah County.

Over 84,000 people have been tested and an estimated 1,252 patients have recovered.

Dunn said Utah is still at a 4.8% overall positive rate.

Herbert concluded Friday’s briefing with a very optimistic thought: “We’re certainly better off than almost any other state in America today. I predict that we will, in fact, recover quicker and faster and better than any other state in America.”

KSL 5 TV Live

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Gov. Herbert: Utah Could Move To ‘Moderate’ Risk Level Next Week