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Health, Science & Environment

After 2,000 COVID-19 Deaths In Utah, Gov. Spencer Cox Reflects On One Year Of The Pandemic

A photo of Angela Dunn and Gov. Spencer Cox.
Francisco Kjolseth
/
The Salt Lake Tribune
Gov. Spencer Cox asked people to be respectful as the statewide mask mandate comes to an end. He and state epidemiologist Angela Dunn also encouraged people to remain cautious by continuing to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

As he reflected back on the past year of the pandemic Thursday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said March 11 marks the day when COVID-19 became real for many Utahns.

“Today was the day of that fateful Jazz game when Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive,” Cox said. “The next day, the NBA shut down and so many other institutions and facets of our lives began to change.”

Utah wouldn’t implement a statewide mask mandate until eight months later in November. Now, that’s set to end April 10, as part of a bill passed by the state Legislature. There are exceptions for large gatherings and schools.

Cox anticipates all adults will be eligible for vaccines by April 1, though there won’t be enough for everyone then. He said Utah is working with the federal government to get more doses.

In the meantime, he asked people to continue being respectful to others.

“If you go into a business, and they are requiring you to wear masks, wear masks,” he said. “Don’t make a fool of yourself because you don’t want to wear masks. If you don’t like it, go shop somewhere else.”

State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the seven-day average of positive cases has started to plateau to around 550 per day. She said that’s good compared to where Utah has been in the past. In November, the week-long case average peaked around 3,400.

But Dunn stressed that if people aren’t cautious, the state could see those numbers rise again.

“We still have about 85% or 90% of our population susceptible to COVID-19. We’re certainly not near herd immunity where we can rely on the vaccine as our only protection measure,” she said. “It’s still essential that we follow the basic public health principles of wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. That will ensure that our cases continue to drop.”

The Utah Department of Health reported 646 new cases Thursday. Utah also surpassed 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19.

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