Gov. Herbert leads news conference about COVID-19, self-protection, plans for opening schools

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 30, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert spoke at a news conference Thursday, offering information on Utah’s COVID-19 pandemic response, evidence that masks help slow the spread of disease, and the planned reopening of public schools.

Joining Herbert were Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn; Brigham Young University assistant professor Ben Abbott, who led a research project assessing studies on the effectiveness of face masks; and Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson.

The news conference focuses on scientific information. To get to a portion of higher interest, readers can skip ahead on the above video to the times listed with each topic listed below.

Herbert opened the news conference talking about Utah’s overall response to recommendations based on research. He then launched into a series of questions he commonly gets, and posed them to Dunn.

Asked how COVID-19 is different from the flu, Dunn talked about the far greater infectiousness and death rate of the coronavirus. Dunn’s comments begin at about 7:15 on the video counter above.

Dunn said already, in five months of 2020, Utahns have suffered twice the hospitalization rate and five times the death rate as in the the last eight-month flu season. She also noted that we have a vaccine for flu, but not COVID-19, and she urged Utahns to get flu shots to better maintain their health in the coming months.

Asked about transmission rates, Dunn said Utah’s current transmission rate is believed to be less than one, meaning each person with COVID-19 infects less than one other person. That’s key to cutting COVID cases, she said. Her answer begins at about 10:22 into the video.

Asked about recovery rates, Dunn said Utah is using a crude definition, counting anyone who is alive three weeks after diagnosis. Her answer begins at about 16:00 into the video.

Herbert noted residual impacts from the virus. Dunn responded that research is being done on a national level, and said it is an evolving aspect of the pandemic. Her response begins at about 17:55.

Abbott speaks about the results of his study beginning at about 24:30 into the video, and says that of more than 130 studies reviewed, it is overwhelmingly clear that COVID-19 transmission decreases when face masks are worn.

Abbott also said that when masks are worn and someone becomes infected, the victim tends to have a less serious case of the virus. He speculated that masks may decrease the amount of the virus shared. Abbott also noted that masks are only proven to work when used in combination with social distancing, hand washing and self-isolating when sick.

Herbert noted that different school districts are considering different options to keep students and staffers as safe as possible. He said that in Kane County, officials are considering having teacher educate remotely, from a different school room than students are in.

At about 36:45 into the recording, Dunn spoke about a new school manual on how to increase chances of keeping of students, teachers and staffers safe when in-person school begins.

Anyone who has COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus will need to stay home. Those exposed to someone with the virus will be allowed to stay in school only if they monitor themselves for symptoms. If symptoms appear, they will be asked to stay home.

At about 58 minutes into the news conference, Dunn talked about statewide standards, such as if three people in a classroom become infected, the whole class shifts to remote learning, and if 15 cases or 10% of the school population becomes infected, the entire school shifts to remote learning.

Dickson speaks at about 39:30 into the video, and talks about the amount of work put in over the summer to put useable plans in place.

From left Dr Angela Dunn Gov Gary Herbert BYU assistant prof Ben Abbott Utah School Superintendent Sydnee Dickson Source Screengrabs from news conference Gov Herberts Facebook page


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