Utah’s Democratic candidate for governor Chris Peterson added his voice to a growing number of Democrats in the state calling for a statewide mask mandate to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We need masks because they are good for business,” Peterson said during a press conference Wednesday. “Our businesses will not recover until people feel safe enough again to go out and resume their lives and do business with the great entrepreneurial free market spirit that all Utahns believe in.”
Peterson said Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox should also improve their plans for contact tracing, testing, stockpiling N-95 masks, and providing personal protective equipment to schools before they reopen next month.
Cox is head of Utah’s coronavirus task force and Peterson’s opponent in the November election.
“I’m cheering for Gov. Herbert and I'm cheering for Lt. Gov. Cox,” Peterson said. “They're doing the best that they can. But we're here today because they need to step it up. They're not getting the job done.”
Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter to Herbert Tuesday, urging him to require masks in high-risk facilities like nursing homes, adding that a statewide mask mandate is also needed.
“If you are unwilling to take that decisive action to save lives, we ask you to at least show leadership in providing this common sense measure to protect those most at risk in our state,” the legislators wrote.
It's important that Utahns know this: every legislative Democrat, EVERY ONE, has called on Governor Herbert to make masks mandatory in the way that our public health and medical leaders have requested. #TimeForChange #utpol https://t.co/NSQQVGwtvI
— Rep. Brian S. King (@RepBrianKing) July 14, 2020
The Governor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment. Herbert issued a “challenge” last week to Utahns to follow social distancing guidelines, including wearing masks, to get the state to an average of less than 500 new cases per day.
“It’s time for us to say, for the good of the whole, we’re going to comply voluntarily when we go out,” Herbert said. “Let’s do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson