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BYU, UVU Warn Students ‘Behavior Must Change’ After COVID-19 Spike

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Just two hours before state health officials announced Provo and Orem would move back to the orange threat level, the Presidents at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University issued a joint letter warning students they must change their behavior as COVID-19 cases spike in Utah County.

BYU President Kevin J. Worthen and UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez said they are grateful that students have been allowed to start the school year with in-person classes and thanked everyone who has complied with the pandemic safety guidelines.

“However, we are greatly concerned about the dramatic rise in positive cases of COVID-19 in Utah County, particularly among college students,” the letter said. “This is both alarming and unacceptable.”

The letter stated that Utah’s two largest universities are concerned for the health and well being of students as well as the local community “who are affected by the trends we have seen in the last week.”

A couple of hours after the letter’s release, Governor Gary Herbert and other state health department officials announced they are moving Provo and Orem into the orange health restriction.

The move to orange brings the following changes:

  • In-person classes at universities are allowed but the biggest difference between orange and yellow levels is common areas in residence halls are closed.
  • Restaurants need to use takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery options as much as possible.
  • For sports or other recreational activities, the state says don’t participate if participants can’t be more than 10 feet apart.
  • Social gatherings should be limited to 20 or fewer people.
  • Religious services are allowed but there have to be at least six feet between households.
  • The state recommends that gyms stay closed.

“Behavior must change,” the letter said. “We implore you to stay home except for in-person classes, work, church, and other essentials. We ask that you limit your social interactions to only those within your household and avoid small gatherings where individuals are not wearing masks or maintaining physical distance.”

The letter said people who are feeling sick should stay home.

It ended with a stern warning. “If circumstances do not improve within the next two weeks, more dramatic action will be necessary. This may include a two-week quarantine, closing campuses to the public, or a complete retreat to all-remote instruction for the rest of the semester.”

The new orange designation in Provo dashed the hopes of 6,000 BYU football fans who were planning to attend the Cougars home opener on Saturday. Fans will not be allowed at either of the next two home games at BYU.

For more information about each level or industry, go to coronavirus.utah.gov.

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