Utah County Health Department issues order requiring masks to slow spread of COVID-19

Face mask often used to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: https://nursetogether.com/Wikimedia Commons

UTAH COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 22, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah County has issued a Public Health Order regarding the wearing of facial coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A letter accompanying the order explains why wearing a mask is critical to slowing down the transmission of the coronavirus at a time when the number of positive cases has spiked.

“As a County Commission and the appointed Health Director of Utah County Health Department, we are concerned about the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in our community,” the letter says. “If the recent trajectory of cases were to continue, our healthcare system’s capacity could be at risk and the entire County may be put back into the Orange Level restrictions.

“While the 15-24 age group currently represents the highest number of cases (and this age group tends to have much lower hospitalization and mortality rates), the spike is not isolated to this demographic. It is spreading throughout our entire community to the point that the state has now moved Provo and Orem to the Orange Level restrictions.”

The letter points out that most residents and businesses have been voluntarily complying with the safety guidelines, often at great cost, and the administrations of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University are “taking decisive action to address this health crisis.”

“Our Health Department, county administration, and city administrations will focus on reviewing licensed entities and large gatherings for compliance. We also place property owners on notice that they are expected to prevent large gatherings with blatant disregard for public health guidelines from occurring on their premises,” the letter continues.

“The face covering requirement provides for exceptions, local adaptation, and is not intended to be enforced with criminal penalties. We want the message for our residents to be as clear as possible: When in public and unable to consistently maintain a safe distance, we are expected to wear face coverings,” the letter states.

The order is in effect as of Sept. 22, and will expire at 11:59 p.m. Oct. 20, 2020, “unless extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing, and shall be re-evaluated
as warranted.”

It also may be rescinded before the expiration date if “case counts, hospitalization rates, positivity rates, and mask compliance indicate a declined risk to public health and a lower level of restriction is reasonable and prudent.”

The complete letter and Public Health Order may be viewed on the Utah County Health Department website.

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