(ABC4 News) — Utah Governor Spencer Cox addressed the state in his first press conference as Governor Friday.
Gov. Cox was the Lt. Gov. to Utah’s former Gov. Gary Herbert. Gov. Cox and Lt. Gov Deidre Henderson were inaugurated on January 4, 2021, at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in St. George, Utah.
During his first address to the state about cononavirus, he said he is looking forward to a “bright and happy new year” with vaccine distribution in place.
He said he is disappointed in how Utah’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution has gone so far.
When talking with healthcare officials, Gov. Cox says there is nothing more important in anyone’s careers than what we are doing right now. The ability to get these life, career, and economy saving drugs to those who need it most is of critical importance, Gov. Cox shares.
He announced an executive order focusing on vaccine distribution, saying it is unacceptable to have vaccines sitting on shelves. He says the state will be working to speed up vaccine reporting and requiring Utah’s long-term care facilities to report how many doses have been administered by 7 a.m. each morning.
Any vaccines not administered will go to other facilities that need them.
He announced anyone who has had COVID-19 in the last 90 days should not get vaccinated at this time, explaining that the chance for reinfection is low.
He says moving forward, vaccine distribution will be managed by local health departments that have the ability to vaccinate at a minimum of 50,000 people per week.
Having local health departments handle vaccine distribution will also help residents know where to go for information, Gov. Cox adds.
Gov. Cox also announced that, starting Monday, January 11, Utah’s in-person educators and staff will start getting vaccinated and says local health departments are already planning for this.
Starting Monday, January 18, vaccination distribution will be open for Utahns age 70 and older with a goal of getting these groups fully vaccinated by the end of February.
Gov. Cox also says he will be focusing on getting vaccinations to Utah’s minority communities. Eligibility will not change, but vaccination sites will be available in more accessible areas.
Dr. Angels Dunn, the state epidemiologist, says Utah health officials are experiencing a spike from the winder holidays, saying it’s clear we let our guard down and encouraging all Utahns to get vaccinated when it’s their turn.
Gov. Cox concluded his first briefing saying, “We’re off to a good start in January as a state and we’re looking forward to great things to come.”