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Gov. Cox Will Sign Schools Face Mask Ban, Asks For Caution During Drought

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Spencer Cox said Utah has to get back to normal as he applauded the Legislature’s efforts to end COVID-19 restrictions in schools.

The governor made clear during his Thursday news conference on PBS that he will sign a resolution passed during Wednesday’s special session to prohibit face mask requirements in schools.

“I’ll sign it because I’ve been saying all along for months that we would not have masks in the fall,” Cox said.

He added a big reason for that is the increasing availability of vaccines.

Right now, those 12 and older are eligible to roll up their sleeves.

That left the possibility that students under 12 would not be vaccinated and there’s very little concern those elementary-age children would have serious complications related to COVID-19.

“When you look at the data around elementary schools, the data is very clear: The risk of hospitalizations and deaths for elementary schools is extremely low,” Cox said.

Cox also pointed out that being able to see faces is critical for early childhood development, as cited in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

He added if circumstances changed then state leaders would have the ability to alter course — either using his executive powers or getting the Legislature involved.

The governor was clear that we should be celebrating the availability of vaccines by rolling up our sleeves then tossing those masks as soon as we are fully vaccinated.

Cox also discussed the drought and called on all Utahns to do their part and use less water.

He said we are headed into the worst drought and potentially the most explosive fire season we’ve ever seen.

“Let me just state unequivocally guys, it’s really bad,” he said. “It’s as bad as it’s ever been.”

Cox said mandatory water restrictions are already in place in some parts of the state, and more are likely as we head into the summer months.

He shared that right now on his farm in Fairview, they are dealing with water cutbacks that they don’t usually see until July or August.

Cox recognized mother nature is ultimately in control of how bad it gets but said everyone can do their part to help out.

“We already have limitations on watering in our yards and we need everybody to especially be cautious if you’re going camping with a trailer,” he said. “Check your chains, make sure you’re not dragging chains. If you’re going out to shoot, make sure you’re in an area where shooting is allowed, that there isn’t any potential for sparking that would cause fires.”

There is a state of emergency in place for drought conditions which allows affected communities, agricultural producers and others access to state or federal emergency resources.

And just Thursday in the special session, lawmakers passed a resolution to extend that state of emergency until Oct. 31.

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