SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, Jan. 10, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has issued a strongly worded statement responding to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox after it was learned he intends to waive the newly issued Salt Lake and Summit county mask mandates in all state facilities, for both employees and visitors to those sites.
Both Salt Lake County and Summit County issued public mask mandates last week. Salt Lake County’s mandate, issued by SLCo Health Department executive director Dr. Angela Dunn with the endorsement of Wilson, calls for respirator masks to be used in public indoor settings for the month.
Cox’s office has not yet released a formal statement, although contents of his plan were first published by FOX13.
Gephardt Daily has requested information from Cox’s office, and has not yet received a response.
Wilson issued her statement before noon on Monday.
“I have learned that Governor Cox has directed that with limited exceptions the mask requirement established by Salt Lake County will not apply to state buildings and the employees and visitors to those buildings,” her statement says.
“While I appreciate the Governor’s authority on many levels, he does not have the authority to exempt state buildings and employees from the Salt Lake County mask requirement and is defying a public health order of constraint.”
Wilson pointed out that Utah is experiencing a record-breaking high in COVID-19 infection rates. The worldwide surge in cases has been attributed to the Omicron variant, which is far more transmissible than previous coronavirus variants.
“With Omicron cases threatening our community not only is this a blatant disregard for the law by our state’s chief elected officer, but a disregard for the health of our community and local authority,” Wilson’s statement says.
“I would expect the Governor to set an example for us all by following the law during this challenging time.”
Last year the legislature passed SB195, which created a process whereby health orders of “constraint” can be issued by a local health department, Wilson’s statement says.
“Those orders can be terminated by the local chief executive officer within 72 hours of issuance, or they can be overridden by the local legislative body at any time. The legislation does not allow for the Governor to disregard the local health order.”
Word of Cox’s announcement comes on the same day the Utah Department of Health documented a three-day total of 24,147 new COVID-19 cases, 3,849 of which were in school-aged children. The UDoH also announced 20 more deaths since its report on Friday, including that of a minor.
The health department noted five of the newly reported deaths occurred prior to Dec. 10, 2021.
The state’s rolling seven-day average for percent positivity of “people over people” was reported is 31.4%, while the rolling seven-day average for percent positivity of “tests over tests” stood at 21.4%.