What do Utah’s reopening phases mean?

Coronavirus Updates

Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah Governor, Gary Herbert announced Thursday most of Utah will be moving from orange, moderate-risk phase to yellow, low-risk phase on Saturday, May 16. 

As Utah transitions through the color-coded risk phases, it’s easy to get confused about what each phase means for residents and businesses working to navigate the changes.

RELATED: Magna stays at orange phase

Utah leaders have encouraged residents to social distance as much as possible in a shared effort to curve the spread of coronavirus. The governor has also asked all Utahns to wear a mask when out and about to protect themselves and those around from contracting the virus when social distancing isn’t an option. 

Related: Does social distancing work?

Utah officials say social distancing and mask-wearing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been working. If you are a Utah resident in need of a mask you can order one for free through Utah.gov. 

Gov. Herbert says forward progress won’t be instant like flipping a switch. It’ll be more like gradually moving a dial. The color-coded guideline dial system is apart of the Gov. Herbert’s Utah Leads Together plan.

Utah Leads Together is a detailed plan for health and economic recovery of the state as we recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

A few of Utah’s city and county leaders have decided it’s in their residents’ best interest to keep their city or county in orange, moderate phase instead of transitions to yellow. 

The counties and cities listed below will continue to operate in the orange phase as the rest of the state transitions to yellow. 

  • Grand County
  • Summit County
  • Wasatch County
  • Salt Lake City
  • West Valley City

Related: Salt Lake County asked for 10-day extension to stay at orange phase, State of Utah said no

What does Utah’s low risk phase mean and what can we do?

Utah’s move to yellow, low-risk phase will continue efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. “I like the trend,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “I like the numbers. I like what’s taking place. It gives me hope and optimism for the future.”

The transition to yellow will encourage Utahns to continue following all public health protocols so we don’t have to turn back the dial. Some of the differences Gov. Herbert announced Thursday included increasing the recommended size limit for private social interactions from 20 to 50 people. Team sports will be allowed with symptom checking and spectators socially distanced, and there will be some relaxation of guidelines as swimming pools begin to open for the summer months.

Related: Team sports in Utah to be allowed to start Saturday

See some of the differences between moderate and low risk phase below:

High-risk individuals are still strongly encouraged to operate under stricter instructions because of their likelihood of suffering the harsh effects of COVID-19.

According to Utah.gov, high-risk individuals are defined as:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions
    • lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised
    • cancer treatment
    • smoking
    • bone marrow or organ transplantation
    • immune deficiencies
    • people living with HIV or AIDS
    • prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • people with severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, or liver disease

Moving forward Gov. Herbert says he plans on following the Utah Leads 2.0 plan as we work together as a state toward recovery. He adds each level of risk will be identified within our communities by analyzing a data dashboard, which compares data on hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and testing, to name a few key metrics.

If Utah maintains low-risk we can transition to green phase, or what Gov. Herbert calls “New Normal Risk” for COVID-19. Gov. Herbert says the green phase will still encourage all Utahns to exercise caution and care.

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