Utah Governor Declares State of Emergency and Issues Statewide Mask Mandate

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Utah governor Gary Herbert address the state yesterday. Credit: utah.gov

Utah Governor Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and issued a statewide mask mandate during a live broadcast last night, amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

“Due to the alarming rate of COVID infections within our state, tonight I issued a new state of emergency with several critical changes to our response. These changes are not shutting down our economy, but are absolutely necessary to save lives and hospital capacity.”

– Governor Gary Herbert

Herbert was quick to state that the restrictions, which will begin today through November 23rd (although the mask mandate is indefinite), will not shut down the economy. On the eve of the ski season, he made sure to confirm that Utahns can still shop, dine in or carry out, exercise, worship and recreate, and many other things.

The mask mandate is enforceable in public when six feet of physical distancing is not possible. Other restrictions include the limit of social gatherings to people in the same households and placing a temporary hold on all school extracurricular activities.

The governor said record hospitalizations and deaths have been reported each day, placing a strain on hospitals in the state, many of which are already at capacity. 

Earlier Sunday, Utah health authorities announced a new high in the number of coronavirus hospitalizations and 2,386 more confirmed COVID-19 cases as the pandemic surged, reported Fox News.  424 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the Utah Department of Health. On Friday, hospitalizations stood at a then-record 395 COVID-19 patients.

“To make a real difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and turning around the dire situation in our hospitals, we all need to do more. This is a sacrifice for all of us. But as we slow the spread it will make all the difference for our overworked healthcare workers, who desperately need our help.”

– Governor Gary Herbert

Last week France, Germany, and Austria all entered national lockdowns, forcing all ski areas to close, and Italy tightened restrictions in areas of the country, closing the majority of their ski areas. Winter Park Resort, CO announced last week that they were postponing their opening day due to ‘health concerns’, and Summit County, CO (home to Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, and Keystone) was moved to ‘Orange Level’ on the state’s covid-19 dial, one level below a stay at home order that would close all ski resorts.

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