Gov. Herbert: ‘Stronger Measures’ To Be Considered If COVID-19 Cases Don’t Drop
Jul 10, 2020, 4:31 PM
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Gov. Gary Hebert said state officials will consider implementing “stronger measures, including a mask mandate,” if Utah does not see a quick drop in new COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, health officials reported a record-high 867 new virus cases and two more deaths.
Utah’s seven-day rolling average was at 620 cases Friday, with a weeklong average of positive tests at 10 percent.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, I have appreciated the advice from our leaders in the healthcare industry. They are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic and understand as well as anyone the terrible consequences of COVID-19,” Herbert said. “Today we reported a disturbing new record of cases. As I said yesterday, if we cannot quickly bring the number of cases down by the voluntary use of masks and physical distancing we will consider stronger measures, including a mask mandate, as Texas and other states have implemented.”
Officials with the Utah Department of Health said 66 percent of the state’s ICU beds were occupied, but representatives from Utah’s hospital systems said that number is actually closer to 72 percent. Intermountain Healthcare officials said they are approaching 77 percent of their ICU capacity.
“I don’t think at this point we can avoid maximizing our hospital capacity,” said Arlen Jarrett, chief medical officer for Steward Health Care. “It’s clear we’re going to be maxing out our hospitals.”
Physicians & clinical leaders from Utah's major health care systems address importance of mandatory masking requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Friday, July 10, 2020
“I think it’s too late to make that change,” he added. “We can’t wait until August.”
Earlier this week, Greg Bell, president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association, said while hospitals may not run out of ICU beds, they will experience shortages in medical personnel and technicians with proper training to treat COVID-19 patients if cases and corresponding hospitalizations rise at current levels.
“Beds don’t treat people. People treat people,” said Mark Briesacher, Intermountain’s chief medical officer.
Herbert on Thursday announced masks will be mandatory for students and teachers as schools reopen for the fall. However, he did not extend the mandate to all of Utah.
Instead, the governor issued a challenge to Utah residents to wear masks in public, adding he wants to give citizens a chance to do the right thing on their own.
“As leaders from our churches, hospitals and our businesses have reiterated, all we ask is wear a mask,” Herbert said.
LIVE: Gov. Gary Herbert and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn are holding a press conference with updates on the state's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19
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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 email@example.com.