SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah’s mask mandate is set to end next week. With COVID-19 cases on the rise nationwide, national officials are calling on states to keep their mandates in place.
President Joe Biden and the Center’s for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warn the country could face another surge in COVID-19 cases if restrictions don’t remain in place.
“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate – please,” Biden said. “This is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down.”
The nation’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases has increased by 10%, according to ABC News. Hospitalizations and death also trending upward.
A statewide mask mandate is still in effect – here in Utah. But a bill signed by Governor Spencer Cox will lift those restrictions on April 10th.
ABC4 News reached out to the Governor, who was not available for an interview. His office said he has no plans to change his decision.
“Without a mask mandate, there’s not a lot we can do,” said Charla Haley, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health. “We can make recommendations, we can make suggestions, but in the end, it’s up to you.”
Haley said the health department supports the Governor, however, they still recommend masks be worn in public.
“We would encourage people to continue to wear masks when the mask mandate is not in place any longer,” she said. “Because we do know from the science that it protects you, it protects others and it’s just good practice.”
COVID-19 cases remain low in Utah, but once the statewide mask mandate is removed, we asked Haley if there could be a reverse in the trend?
“The United States is no longer in a decline,” Haley said. “We typically run about three to four weeks behind what our nation is seeing. So, we are worried about a fourth surge.”
The Governor’s office said under House Bill 294, counties have the authority to keep mask mandates in place, but it’s up to the county council or commission to decide what’s next.
Salt Lake County is the most populous county in the state. Media representatives told ABC4 News the county council will decide whether to keep its mask mandate or not. Backed by data, a decision is expected to be made on April 9th.