Gov. Herbert Announces New COVID-19 Guidance System
Oct 13, 2020, 12:01 PM | Updated: 7:02 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert on Tuesday announced updates to Utah’s COVID-19 guidance and restrictions.
Herbert announced Utah is retiring the color-coded guidance system in favor of a new system that will focus on counties being placed into high, moderate, or low transmission levels.
LIVE: Gov. Herbert and Dr. Dunn hold press conference with COVID-19 updates. Herbert says he's announcing major changes to the state's coronavirus guidelines, which includes new restrictions.
Posted by KSL 5 TV on Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Beginning Tuesday, the state is moving to the new system, which will place each county in one of three transmission levels: High, Moderate or Low.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said those levels will correspond directly to the county’s case rates, positivity rates, and ICU utilization.
The state shared the following graphics showing how the three transmission levels are measured:
Counties that meet two of three criteria will be moved to the appropriate transmission level, she said, and they will only be moved from higher to lower levels after spending a minimum of 14 days in the higher level.
2-Week Public Health Order
Rich Saunders, director of the Utah Department of Health, said a new public health order will require everyone to wear masks while attending events of public gatherings such as theater, sporting events, concerts or weddings — no matter which level of transmission a county is currently in.
That public health order will be in place until Oct. 29 in order to change the trajectory of the state’s current situation, he said.
According to that health order, masks are required for all counties in the High Level of Transmission and the Moderate Level of Transmission over the next two weeks. Masks are “strongly recommended” in counties that are in the Low Level of Transmission.
The order will also require that all persons living in High and Moderate Transmission areas are to limit casual social gatherings to 10 individuals or fewer.
Saunders said Utahns need to put an emphasis on controlling the spread of the virus at casual social gatherings. This will mean wearing masks at any gatherings that do not have establishment or organizational oversight, including “hanging with groups of your high school or college friends.”
“In a time where nobody seems willing or able to agree on much of anything, I think we all look forward to the day where we can once again see each other’s faces, shake each other’s hands, hug each other, and do so without fear,” he said.
The state will update coronavirus.utah.gov each Thursday with information on which counties are at which transmission level. The website will include data to support why those transmission level decisions were made.
Currently, Cache, Garfield, Juab, Salt Lake and Utah counties are at High Level of Transmission.
Counties in the Moderate Level of Transmission are Box Elder, Carbon, Davis, Grand, Iron, Millard, Morgan, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, and Washington.
Beaver, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Kane, Piute, Rich and Wayne counties are in the Low Level of Transmission.
The governor said the Utah Department of Health and the National Guard are on standby to open an alternate care site at the Mountain America Expo Center as hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases climb in Utah.
“Unfortunately, over the past four weeks, we have seen our infection cases and case counts skyrocket to the highest they’ve ever been,” Herbert said. “Our case counts have hovered around 1,000 per day. Our percent of positivity is now over 13%.”
“This is one of the worst outbreaks in the country,” he added. “This is unacceptable.”