CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Cox: Vaccine Distribution At Top Of List For First 100 Days

Jan 8, 2021, 11:08 PM | Updated: 11:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Just days into his new job, Governor Spencer Cox is making it clear what his top priorities are for 2021.

At the top of that list — COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“The first priority and really, it’s probably one, two and three in and of itself is vaccine distribution,” Cox said less than 24 hours after being sworn in as the new governor of Utah. “Nothing else matters more right now. And our goal is and has to be that every dose of vaccine that we receive from the federal government is gone within a week after receiving it.”

As of Friday, more than 89,000 vaccines have been administered in Utah. That’s out of the nearly 162,000 doses sent to the Beehive State.

Cox said the gap between the two is unacceptable.

“It’s a huge concern. And that’s exactly what I’m referring to when I say we haven’t rolled it out as quickly as I want,” he said. “We have the infrastructure, the people, the willingness to work together. We’ve just got to be able to synchronize what’s happening.”

The governor admitted there have been communication problems when it comes to prioritizing distribution.

Some Utahns are asking why teachers are getting vaccinated before seniors, even questioning the importance of certain employees in the health care industry getting the COVID-19 vaccine, who have told KSL they work from home or away from patients.

Many of those office employees believe the vaccine should be given to others who are more vulnerable.

“Yeah, they’re absolutely right, they shouldn’t have gotten it,” Cox said. “But that’s OK. Again, we want to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible. That was not part of the plan. There was a push in some of our hospital systems who had so much vaccine, and we’re pushing them to get it out. So, what they did was they said, hey, look, anybody if you want the vaccine Come and get it right now. And so people came, and they got the vaccine.”

“It’s not how we anticipated it would roll out. But let me say this very clearly, that is better than having the vaccine sitting on a shelf, and potentially expiring. That doesn’t help anyone,” he added.

Since the pandemic began, critics have accused the state of ignoring the science and data when making certain decisions, especially when it came to businesses and schools.

“I don’t think that is true,” Cox responded. “You have to look at all the data. And we have other data showing that one of the worst things that have happened throughout this pandemic is that kids are missing out on an education and that they’re falling behind.

“And there are long-term results of kids not being in the classroom with teachers. The long term effects of that could be disastrous, and maybe worse than some of the long term effects from the health aspects of the pandemic. And so you have to weigh those two things.”

Cox also recognized for many working families, the cost to live in Utah is becoming more and more unaffordable as rent and home prices increases.

“It’s hard to fix it, right? If it was easy, we would have done it already,” Cox said. “And so, there are things we have to do, the price of housing is the big one. And we’ve got to use the market to help us bring that down. Part of what changes that market, though, are government regulations around where you can build and how dense you can build, and those types of things.

“And we shouldn’t be putting density everywhere. That’s not what we’re recommending at all. But there are certain places, especially around transit hubs, where density absolutely makes sense. Where it doesn’t burden traffic, where it doesn’t hurt the neighborhoods. And so, by focusing on those areas, we can increase supply. And then, of course, the price comes down.”

He’s less than a week into the new job, but looking down the road, Cox was confident the next four years will be some of the best.

“Utah will thrive,” he said. “Because we have the best people in the world here. It’s not because of me. But it’s because of the incredible people that we’ve seen. And throughout this pandemic we’ve seen through hurricane-force winds, earthquakes, all of those crazy things, wildfires that have happened this year, Utah is destined to thrive.”

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Gov. Cox: Vaccine Distribution At Top Of List For First 100 Days