Utah governor issues statewide mask mandate amid virus surge

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News ID: 49168
Publish Date: 9:53 - 10 November 2020
Tuesday, 10 November 2020_Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and ordered a statewide mask mandate in an attempt to stem a surge in coronavirus patient hospitalizations that is testing the state’s hospital capacity.

Utah governor issues statewide mask mandate amid virus surgeHerbert and the Utah Department of Health late Sunday issued executive and public health orders requiring residents to wear face coverings in public, at work and when they are within 6 feet (2 meters) of people who don’t live in their households.

Several of the state's largest counties already required masks, but Herbert, a Republican, had resisted extending the rule to the entire state despite a two-month surge of cases.

Herbert said Sunday night that the time to debate masks had passed and insisted his orders won't shut down the economy.

The new Utah rules also call for a two-week pause on extracurricular activities including athletic events, with the exception of high school championship games and Intercollegiate athletic events as long as testing and social distancing guidelines are adhered to. Herbert ordered a limit on “casual social gatherings” to household members only.

The orders go into effect at 1 p.m. local time (MST) on Monday and are set to last until Nov. 23.

By Jan. 1, all Utah students at public and private universities who attend at least one class per week in person must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

State officials sent out an emergency alert to state residents on their phones Sunday to alert them to Herbert's televised address outlining the orders.

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.

Some 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.

Herbert’s office said in a statement Sunday that the mask-wearing mandate will be extended beyond Nov. 23 “for the foreseeable future.”

Utah’s seven-day average of newly confirmed daily cases has reached a record-breaking 2,290.

In the past two weeks, Utah’s positivity average — the percentage of coronavirus tests that are positive — has increased from 18.5% to 20.6%, according to state data. At least 659 state residents have died of the coronavirus and more than 132,000 have been infected.

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