‘It is what it is, right?’ Provo, Orem moving to orange phase at midnight

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UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) – At 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night, Orem and Provo will revert back to the orange phase from the yellow phase with COVID-19 restrictions.

The cities are two hotspots in Utah County seeing a spike in new cases. Officials hope the change in phases will help reduce new infections. There’s specific concern for those considered high-risk.

“What the high-risk individuals are supposed to do from that move from yellow to orange, it’s really an awareness to them ‘hey, you really need to work on taking those precautions again that you were maybe three or four months ago’,” said Tyler Plewe, Division Director for Environmental Health of Utah County.

Plewe’s department is responsible for helping to implement the phase changes.
“Our role is alerting a lot of those affected businesses, and different entities,” he said. “When we look at the move from yellow to orange, one of the big categories that is affected a lot of it will be done through education.”

Plewe says some entities will be directly contacted by phone or email. Information will also be on the county’s website and social media.

Right now, the spike in new COVID cases is five times more in Utah County than any other part of the state.

“It is what it is, right? We’re having a higher rate of COVID and that’s the reality we’re presented with,” said Plewe. “We can’t do anything with that reality, but mitigate. And, what can we do as a community to help limit that?”

On Tuesday, State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn revealed a person is “three to six times more likely to catch COVID in Utah County” during the Governor’s COVID briefing on Tuesday at the State Capitol.

According to the Utah Department of Health, areas with the highest case rates include what the department calls “small areas” including Brigham Young University and the Provo City East City Center.

Locally, the county’s health department says it’s hoping the county will come together as a whole to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread.

“The important thing is this response and mitigation to COVID is a community response,” said Plewe. “It happens with the individual, and the individual makes the community. As we think personally what we can do, hopefully, everyone is having those thoughts, and the community comes together and we can help limit the spread.”

Changes in the orange phase mainly include social distancing and not attending gatherings of 20 or more people for individuals.

There are no changes for restaurants or gyms. Sporting events can continue, but fans aren’t allowed to attend.

There’s also a mandatory mask mandate throughout the county until October 20th.

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