SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s largest organization of physicians, the Utah Medical Association (UMA) has sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert, asking for a statewide face-covering mandate be issued to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Utah has experienced a drastic spike in COVID-19 cases recently, with a rolling average of over 1000 cases per day and a 14% infection rate.
In addition, the House of Delegates (HOD) for the UMA has adopted a new policy, “…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 sent to the Governor acknowledges what 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.”
In Utah, there has been resistance to wearing masks, with some saying it’s against their rights as Americans. Sharen R.M. Richens, MD, the UMA president says:
“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 the 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.”
The UMA CEO Michelle S. McOmber, MBA, CAE, added, “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, that benefits everyone.”