Salt Lake City anticipates shift to yellow restriction phase of COVID-19 guidelines Friday

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Wednesday that after a month of citywide downward trending COVID data, Salt Lake City will shift to the yellow restriction phase of the state’s COVID-19 guidelines effective Friday, September 4th instead of the initially reported Thursday, September 3rd.

The Mayor’s office issued a correction stating that the State Department of Health has now indicated that the shift would be officially effective on Friday.

The Governor is reportedly reviewing the request and says there must be 24 hours notice given to the Legislature before a restriction phase is modified. “It is anticipated that SLC’s shift would therefore be effective on Friday, Sept 4th,” said UDOH Interim Executive Director Rich Saunders.

“We are seeing very good data for Salt Lake City and after over 30 days of citywide trend progress we are ready to take this next step,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “As our residents move from neighborhood to neighborhood and city to city, there is limited public health benefit to remaining the only orange jurisdiction. The key for us now is in continued social distancing, wearing masks, and continuing to practice handwashing and other sanitary measures.”

“Salt Lake City has made tremendous progress recently in reducing COVID-19 cases,” said UDOH Interim Executive Director Rich Saunders. “We analyze data on a weekly basis, and the data in Salt Lake City over the past 14 days certainly support the city moving to the ‘yellow’ restriction level. While we sometimes will see increases and decreases in the daily or weekly numbers over the course of this pandemic, it’s key to look at the overall trends and ensure we remain headed in the right direction.”

City officials say Salt Lake City has experienced over a month of downward trending COVID data, which goes beyond the CDC and state recommendations to look for a 14-day stabilization or decline in the positivity rate.

Salt Lake City’s rate has been trending downward since July 13 and the City’s most impacted zip codes — 84104 and 84116 — have both seen an overall stabilization or reduction over the past 30 days.

Salt Lake County has had a mask requirement in place since late June, which has contributed to the downward trend, according to city officials.

“While we’re encouraged by what we’re seeing in Salt Lake City, it’s important to remember there are communities in the city that are still experiencing an increased burden of COVID-19,” said UDOH State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn. “We will continue to work with those community leaders to decrease barriers to testing and to promote behaviors that will reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

“I want to be clear that this shift is not a signal to relax on the important measures we take each day to stop the spread of COVID. Shifting to yellow is not a return to normal. Masks are still required and are critical. We are still asking you to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. We must maintain concerted efforts to sanitize and wash our hands. And high-risk individuals still must take additional steps to keep themselves safe,” Mayor Mendenhall added. 

Learn more about the different COVID-19 restriction phases.

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