SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Utah Medical Association has called upon Utah Governor Gary Herbert to implement a statewide mandate for wearing face coverings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Association sent a letter to the governor on September 24th requesting the mandate after a “drastic spike” in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the state, as well as a new policy statement adopted by the Utah Medical Association (UMA) House of Delegates (HOD) which debated the issue earlier this month.

The HOD policy statement instructs UMA to “support and recommend that Utah implement a statewide mask mandate as it is supported by medical and epidemiological evidence, until such time as the COVID-19 pandemic is sufficiently under control as defined by state public health and epidemiologic experts.”

The letter to the Governor states that although much is still unknown about the virus, “there are a few things that we now know to be true that will help us control this pandemic and its devastating effects: one, that masks make a difference in the spread of the virus; and two, that we need to keep the economy open and moving forward and wearing masks will help us do that…While none of us like mandates, we feel in this instance that the benefits to the public far outweigh the inconvenience to the public.”

According to UMA President Sharon R.M. Richens, MD, “Public health needs to be balanced against the freedom to do what we want. As a society, we have chosen to protect the public in many ways. We have banned smoking indoors and within 25 feet of entrances to buildings. We have banned drinking and driving. We have banned illegal substances. We have required the wearing of seatbelts and use of car seats in vehicles. We have done this all in the name of public health and the interest of the general public. The mandating of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is just another good public health decision.”

“Face coverings reduce transmission of the virus, which in turn will allow our state economy to remain more open, and allow people to more safely interact,” said UMA CEO Michelle S. McOmber, MBA, CAE. “That benefits everyone.”

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