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Gov. Herbert Issues New State Of Emergency To Address COVID Spike

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Gov. Gary Herbert has issued a new state of emergency, declaring a statewide mask mandate, restricting casual gatherings to households, and calling for a two-week pause on all extracurricular activities.

An alert was sent out via Emergency Alert System around 9 p.m. Sunday, and the governor provided additional details on local TV news stations around 9:30 p.m.

The executive order was made in conjunction with a public health order from the Utah Department of Health following weeks of stress on Utah hospitals and healthcare workers.

On Sunday, health officials reported 2,386 more Utahns had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the seven-day positive rate of infection to 20.6 percent. A total of 424 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, a new record for the Beehive State, and ICU capacity has reached 78.2 percent. With an additional death reported Sunday, the death toll has now reached 659.

Under the mandate, all Utahns must wear a mask in public and within six feet of anyone they don’t live with.

“This mandate is also enforceable in business settings, which must require employees to wear masks, promote patrons to wear masks, and post signage to that effect,” read the governor’s order.

Officials said any business that fails to meet those demands will be subject to steep fines.

“Please note that even after the orders issued today expire, the mask mandate will be extended for the foreseeable future.”

The governor ordered Utahns to limit casual social gatherings to members within their own household until Nov. 23.

Extra-curricular activities are also canceled for the next two weeks, with exceptions to intercollegiate events and high school championships.

The fourth step in the order called for weekly COVID-19 testing, specifically for students enrolled at public and private institutions of higher education who live on campus or attend at least one in-person class each week.

The new recommendations were announced a week after Gov. Herbert met with CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield and Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“To make a real difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and turning around the dire situation in our hospitals, we all need to do more,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “That’s why we are restricting casual social gatherings for the next two weeks. This means many of us may have to cancel plans with extended family and friends. This is a sacrifice for all of us. But as we slow the spread it will make all the difference for our overworked healthcare workers, who desperately need our help.”

The State of Emergency also increases testing and contact tracing and provides more specifics about how the state will do that.

Health officials said they’ll be targeting 15-35 year olds as that age group has more potential of spreading COVID-19, without even knowing they have the virus. 

Their goal is to get as many people tested as possible and find those that are asymptomatic.

The order officially goes into effect beginning at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9 and will remain in effect until Nov. 23.


Coronavirus Resources

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.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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.

Additional Resources

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 consumerprotection@utah.gov.

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