SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 10, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County has ended its COVID-19 emergency status after nearly three years, with health officials saying it’s no longer fiscally warranted.
The public health emergency declaration was put in place on March 6, 2020, by Mayor Jenny Wilson, allowing the county to maximize federal funding. The emergency status officially came to an end 1,033 days later on Jan. 3, Salt Lake County officials said.
“Given the incorporation of COVID-19 response activities into the Health Department’s regular infrastructure, Mayor Wilson and I believe it is no longer fiscally [warranted] for the County to extend the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency,” Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, stated in a Dec. 23 letter to the County Council.
While COVID-19 cases continue, Dunn says the health department’s traditional infrastructure can handle them.
“It’s still important that everyone stay home if they have any symptoms consistent with a respiratory virus,” she said, noting “COVID, influenza, and RSV will continue to be challenges, likely throughout the winter.
“Fortunately, we have the tools to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We can mask during times of high transmission, we can stay home and social distance when we are feeling unwell, and for COVID and influenza we have very effective vaccines.”
County health officials will monitor the number of cases and adjust the response accordingly, Dunn said.
Mayor Wilson said the pandemic “upended almost all county operations, yet we emerge stronger.”
The county’s action in the early days of the pandemic helped it qualify for roughly $50.5 million in additional Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, county officials said.
The county also has received $203.6 million in CARES Act and $225.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act disbursements since March 2020. County officials say future federal funds and reimbursements available through the public health declaration are diminishing.