SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As Salt Lake County extended its mask requirement to Aug. 20, the Salt Lake Chamber and dozens of businesses pushed Utah leaders Thursday to require masks statewide in public places when social distancing is not possible.
“As business and community leaders, we express our heightened concern over increasing COVID-19 infection rates and decreasing hospital treatment capacity,” the statement read, signed by more than 130 businesses and other organizations. “We are equally concerned with the potential impacts to the state’s emerging economic recovery. Public health and economic health are inseparably connected, not competing alternatives, and both are required to sustain healthy and economically viable families, businesses and communities.”
Until now, Utah’s color-coded COVID-19 guidelines have included only recommendations for mask use.
Governor Gary Herbert’s Office said he would review the recommendations with legislative leadership and Unified Command next week.
“We appreciate the engagement of the Salt Lake Chamber on this issue,” the statement from the governor’s office read. “Their voice is one of many important voices we consider.”
That statement also noted the importance of wearing a mask to limit the spread of disease and encouraged people to wear a mask over the 4th of July weekend, when it is impossible to maintain a distance of six feet from others.
“Seldom in business or in life is the most effective solution also the easiest, but in the fight against the coronavirus that is exactly what wearing a mask means for the health and well-being of lives and livelihoods,” it read.
Earlier, a new order from Salt Lake County extended the current mask requirement through Aug. 20. Under that rule, people are required to wear masks at community gatherings and in stores, businesses and while waiting to be seated at restaurants.
Herbert also approved mandatory mask orders for Summit and Grand counties, along with the city of Springdale, located near Zion National Park.
Several people downtown Thursday said they believed extending and widening mask requirements were good ideas given increasing infection rates.
“Wearing a mask to protect other people is a simple thing to ask,” said Brighton West.
Lord Mckan acknowledged, however, that not everybody felt as strongly as he and others did about mask use.
“We went to the Murray mall yesterday and most people had a mask on, but some people were told they needed a mask and they wouldn’t even leave the mall,” Mckan said. “Security came and brought them a mask and they refused to wear it.”
Curtis Stauffer said he believed attitudes everywhere are slowly changing about masks.
“Wherever it seems crowded, it seems people are caring more about it,” he said. “Whether or not you want to wear it doesn’t really matter because if other people feel safer with it on, that’s better for the public as a whole.”
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.