SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 6, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox held his weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday morning.
Cox said the state has now met the metrics of House Bill 294, the so called “Endgame Bill,” and met them earlier than anticipated.
“Almost all restrictions, what very little were left, are now gone,” Cox said. “The only exception being that just until the end of the school year, just a couple more weeks left, we do still have a mask requirement and a Test to Play requirement for our schools, so we will be finishing out the school year and then those will go away as well.”
Cox said officials are often asked by Utahns if it is safe to go back to large sporting events, or theaters, for example.
“The answer is yes, there are no state restrictions on any of those events or those opportunities,” Cox said. “Now, what this means though, is that it is a transition to people and to institutions to make choices that they believe are necessary to keep their employees and their patrons safe and they will continue to do that. So of course many of our businesses will still have some of those restrictions in place, they will be loosening them as case counts continue to go down.
“And and we encourage more than anything it really is now about personal responsibility, people need to exercise caution, especially those who are not vaccinated or who are at high risk. We sure appreciate the measured approach people have taken to help us get back to normal.”
Cox said COVID-19 numbers have plateaued in Utah and over the past week have dropped off, “which is just great news.” A total of 56% of eligible people have now received at least one dose, he added. It is expected that on Friday, Utah will reach the milestone of having at least 1 million Utahns fully vaccinated. He said many of the largest vaccine providers have ceased to require appointments, which makes getting the shot even easier.
Cox added the federal government has just announced that nationwide, you can find vaccines via text message in English or Spanish if you text your zip code to “GET-VAX,” (438-829) and you will receive a text with three vaccination locations near you.
He said that three counties have moved from low to moderate on the COVID-19 transmission index; those are Duchesne, Morgan and San Juan counties, and two counties have moved from moderate to low; those are Uintah and Washington. That leaves just one county, Grand County, in the high transmission index.
Cox also said that today’s briefing would be the last for state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, before she takes up her new post as executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department on June 1. Cox wore an “I Love Dr. Dunn” T-shirt to the press conference.
He said: “I just want her to know how grateful we are for everything that she has done over the past year. We’ve been so fortunate to have her leadership and her guidance. We will miss her dearly but we’re excited for this next chapter, this next adventure.”
Dunn also shared a message of thanks.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you to the state of Utah, to my Utah Department of Health family, of course the media, and all the Utahns out there who have been such a great support over the past 14 months.”
Lt. Gov Deidre Henderson, speaking at the briefing, said the push continues send mobile clinics across the state to organizations so they may receive free vaccinations.
Henderson said the state has received over 200 requests from organizations and those clinics provided 27,000 vaccine doses over the past week.
“We know that going to a large clinic is not accessible or practical for everybody, and we saw this early on, which is why we really did start focusing on vaccine equity,” she said. “We want our vaccine rates to reflect our population.”
Henderson said approximately 41% of Asian adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. Approximately 34% of Hispanic adults, 23% of Black adults and 23% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander adults have received at least one dose. Approximately 50% of white Utahns have received at least one dose.
Approximately 87% of Utahns age 65 and older have now received at least one dose, and 76% of that age group are now fully vaccinated, Henderson added.