SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The state’s mask mandate is still in full effect and is required in all of Utah’s 29 counties. New insight from state leaders proposes a possible end to it in areas considered low transmission.
This change to previous public health guidelines will become effective eight weeks after the state allocates 1,633,000 first doses of the vaccine, according to the Utah Department of Health.
“We’ve had really good news in the past 24-hours from all of the vaccine manufacturers in terms of where they project their production to be over the course of the next month and then even into the early part of the summer,” said spokesperson Tom Hudachko.
The 1,633,000 COVID-19 vaccines would allow 70% of Utah’s adult population to have at least one dose of the two-series shot, Hudachko said.
Studies are underway for kids, Hudachko said, noting the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for 16-and-17-year-olds.
“We are going to have to wait until the data from the clinical trials are in and a vaccine is approved by the FDA for populations younger than the age of 16,” Hudachko said.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox is optimistic about the future.
With vaccination efforts ramping up, Cox said in a Tweet, that he believes “Utahns will be celebrating maskless in large groups by the fourth of July, if not sooner.”
In a formal statement from the Governor to ABC4 News:
Hudachko said the Governor’s goal is entirely within reach.
“It is certainly possible and even likely that we would have those 1.633 million prime doses allocated to the state by the early part of May – which would certainly fit the Governor’s timeline of eight weeks later,” he said.
In recent weeks, state data suggests multiple counties have dropped in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and percent positivity.
Five counties are currently in low transmission levels and Hudachko said more counties could be moving soon.
“Given the fact that we’ve seen such improvement in all three of those measures of the course of many weeks, it would make sense that we would start to see counties moving across that transmission index,” he said.
When data changes, Hudachko said, that’s when policies can change – and that will continue to be standard practice in the weeks and months ahead.