SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In his weekly COVID-19 statewide briefing, Governor Spencer J. Cox announced that Utah had reached an important threshold.
Wearing an “I heart Dr. Dunn” t-shirt, due to Thursday’s briefing being state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn’s last as she has moved on to a position with Salt Lake County, Cox announced that Utah was nearing the end of the state’s restrictions.
According to Cox, as the state transitions into the next phase of the waning pandemic, the onus now will be on businesses to protect their employees as well as on personal responsibility to continue to reduce transmission.
Cox credited the state’s vaccine efforts for the progress in the fight against the coronavirus. Rattling off some figures, Cox mentioned that 56% of Utahns had received at least one dose of the vaccine and that as of Friday, Utah will reach 1 million fully vaccinated. Cox called that figure “incredible,” considering that it was just the first week of May that that was milestone was reached.
“We all feel a sense of relief to be where we are today,” Cox said in the briefing.
On Tuesday, ABC4 reported that the state had reached the necessary criteria to lift COVID-19 public health orders, according to House Bill 294. The bill, known as the COVID-19 “endgame bill,” outlined the conditions as the following:
- Utah’s 14-day case rate is less than 191 per 100,000 people (currently 163.4)
- State’s seven-day average COVID-19 ICU usage is less than 15% (currently 11.2%)
- More than 1,633,000 prime doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been allocated to the state (1,656,025 doses have currently been allocated to Utah)
The announcement made by the Utah Department of Health signaled the end of statewide restrictions on social distancing and the size of gatherings.
While mask mandates in Salt Lake City and Grand County have now been lifted thanks to the meeting of the above guidelines, businesses will still have the right to require masks.
Despite the progress made on reaching the public health order thresholds, three counties in Utah; Morgan, San Juan, Duchesne, all had increases in transmission, reaching the moderate level on the index. Grand County remained the lone county in the high level of transmission, according to the state COVID-19 transmission index. Cox remarked on Thursday that Utah had reached its lowest 7-day total of transmissions since June 2020.
In last week’s COVID-19 briefing, Cox announced a rollout of mobile vaccination clinics that businesses could schedule for administration online. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson reminded Utahns of that option in her time at the podium.
Concluding his remarks before turning the time to Dr. Dunn, Cox reminded Utahns to be empathic and to show kindness to each other.
“There’s no right way to come out of a pandemic,” he said, as he wrapped his comments by thanking Dunn for her time as the state epidemiologist.
Dunn, in her last press briefing in her current role before she assumes a similar position with Salt Lake County, Dunn echoed Cox’s excitement in the progress, particularly in the 7-day decrease happening both locally and nationally. She also touched on the importance of getting teenagers vaccinated as soon as it is approved by the FDA, calling it “the most important step” in Utah’s vaccination efforts.
She also thanked all Utahns for their support during her tenure as the state epidemiologist.
Following the briefing and while taking questions and answering an inquiry about the burning of a giant effigy of a vaccination syringe in Sanpete County last week, Cox reminded Utahns that “Facebook is not the best source for information,” and that the state is working to get the most accurate data and trustworthy insight available and easy to find.
“We’ve seen kids act like adults and we’ve seen adults act like kids,” when asked about his reaction to some of the behavior he has seen during this pandemic.