Gov. Herbert says no mask mandate in sight as Salt Lake County Mayor requests statewide mandate

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert shares updates during a COVID-19 pandemic press conference Monday, March 30, 2020, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News, via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson issued a letter to Governor Gary Herbert Tuesday afternoon asking for a statewide mask mandate. In the governor’s address to the public Tuesday afternoon, he did not issue a statewide mask mandate, he rather moved the cities of Orem and Provo back to the orange coronavirus phase, meaning tighter restrictions for those residents.

In the letter, Mayor Wilson says “Today, I implore you to take it a step further and implement a statewide mask mandate. Not only does the health of Utah depend upon strong action, the future of our economy is at stake.”

In Tuesday’s coronavirus press conference, Gov. Herbert was asked about the statewide mask mandate that Mayor Jenny Wilson has requested. Wilson’s letter was released right before Tuesday’s press conference with the governor.

“It would have been more impressive to me if she would have called me on the phone and talked to me about it as opposed to just releasing it to the press which sounds more like a political stunt,” Gov. Herbert says of Wilson’s mask mandate request. “That being said, I have been very consistent in talking about the local responsibility (on mask mandates).”

Gov. Herbert went on to say, “Nobody knows the demographics and the culture and the situation better than those who are in those communities at large. What we have in Wayne County and what we have in Davis County are two different dynamics. So I am expecting the local governments to step up. We are happy to work with them on what they need to do and we will support them with what they choose to do.”

While speaking on Mayor Wilson’s mask mandate request, Gov. Herbert made his stance clear, “I am not opposed to people wearing masks. I wear mine all the time. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, we don’t have to be compelled by the government to do the right thing.”

Mayor Wilson’s letter to the governor also cites Salt Lake County’s successes in slowing the spread of COVID-19 since their mask mandate went into effect on June 27.

“A proven countywide mask mandate on June 27 (slowed) the spread of the disease. For weeks, Salt Lake County’s new cases rose at a far slower rate than those of other counties in Utah,” Mayor Wilson said.

Wilson concludes her plea to the governor by writing, “Four hundred forty-six deaths as of today are too many. Nearly 65,000 Utahns afflicted with a disease for which simple measures will slow the spread is heartbreaking. Strong action by you today will mitigate loss and illness. Please Governor, we need you to move from requests to requirements.”

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