SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Is Utah reopening the economy too soon amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) said he analyzed the data and believes it’s time to move forward, but research from leading health expert on the national level disagree.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, released a guide for governors, summarizing considerations and risks around reopening.
The report suggests states should only reopen if: the number of new coronavirus cases has declined for at least 14 days, rapid diagnostic testing is sufficient to test at minimum, all people with COVID-19 symptoms, the healthcare system is able to safely care for all patients, including providing appropriate personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, and there is capacity to conduct contact tracing for all new cases.
“I like the trend, I like the numbers, I like what is taking place,” said Herbert. “It gives me hope and optimism about the future.”
At a video press conference on Thursday, the governor, alongside his pandemic advisors, said Utah has met the requirements.
Utah does not meet requirement number one, listed by Johns Hopkins. The number of new cases in Utah has not in fact declined over the last 14 days.
“Bottom line is, we see positive trends, and as we were getting close to the end of that current order, it made sense to move forward,” said Jefferson Burton, Department of Health.
Those are all activities Johns Hopkins says comes with additional risks.
“When we transition between phases, we coordinated closely with health officers and elected officials,” said Burton.
The Centers for Disease Control predicts a surge in deaths for the Beehive state, but Governor Herbert says if a surge in case happens, Utah is prepared.