Gov. Cox, Dr. Dunn Reflect On ‘Roller Coaster’ Year & Hope For The Future

Mar 11, 2021, 6:35 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:17 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic one year ago Thursday, and Gov. Spencer Cox and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn reflected on a year that was devastating for many Utahns.

“It’s been a roller coaster of a year,” Dunn said in a briefing with the governor and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson at the Capitol.

One year ago, Utah had three confirmed cases of COVID-19. The governor mourned the loss of more than 2,000 lives during the briefing, but he also highlighted the hope ahead.

“While the pandemic did not start a year ago for many of us, today marks the day when I think it became real,” said Cox.

Exactly one year ago Thursday, Utah Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive before the Jazz’s game at Oklahoma City.

Within days, normal life was shutting down.

Cox saluted Utah’s health care workers for the hard work they put in throughout the year to keep the state’s hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

“You have been and continue to be the heroes through this pandemic,” he said.

He also mourned the loss of more than 2,000 people from Utah communities and empathized with their families.

“It’s still incredibly tragic for those of us who have friends, loved ones who have lost their lives, our hearts go out to you,” he said.

He offered respect and admiration for those who suffered business losses and fought to survive. Cox said the perspective of the struggle offers hope for what’s happening now, as the pace of vaccinations accelerates.

“We feel very optimistic about where we are,” Cox said, announcing that he believes all Utah adults will be eligible for vaccinations by April 1.

“We’re on our way to the end,” Dunn said. “We’re so close, and we’re really fortunate to have a decrease in cases, hospitalizations and deaths at the same time we’re increasing our access to vaccines.”

Cox urged Utahn’s to be respectful, rather than divisive, about wearing masks, especially when the mandate ends on April 10.

He does not want differing views on wearing masks to create friction in our communities.

“If you go into a business, and they are requiring you to wear a mask, wear masks,” he said. “Don’t yell at the clerk. Don’t yell at the store manager. Don’t make a fool of yourself because you don’t want to wear masks.”

When the mask mandate ends, he said, businesses can still require masks. Masks will still be mandatory in schools and he pointed out that many people for their own health reasons will continue to wear masks.

Dunn said a mask mandate should be the last restriction lifted in the state. She believes Utahns should continue to wear them until virus transmission and case counts indicate the virus has been vanquished.

Cox also implored everyone to be kind and respectful to each other because the challenges are not over.

“This is really important as we move forward,” Cox said. “We’re close to the end of this pandemic, we need a measure of grace and patience with each other.”

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Gov. Cox, Dr. Dunn Reflect On ‘Roller Coaster’ Year & Hope For The Future