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Utah To Issue Major Disaster Declaration Due To COVID-19

Photo of gary herbert speaking from behind a podium
Screengrab from video via Facebook Live
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in a press conference on Facebook Live on Tuesday announced that he plans to issue a Major Disaster Declaration on Wednesday.

Utah plans to issue a Major Disaster Declaration Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

On March 6, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a state of emergency, but this declaration gives the state more access to federal money and resources to fight COVID-19. 

The state’s unified command of emergency leaders has been elevated to the highest level. 

Representatives from the Utah National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are now involved in day to day operations. 

They’ve been working to get more personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, to give health care workers and first responders. Utah’s public safety commissioner said they have gotten some from a national stockpile but it isn't enough. 

The state has about 27,000 masks on hand, but it needs 2 to 3 million, according to Herbert.

“The hospitals are stepping up seeing if they can help bring material that we can create some of the PPEs with in a recycled fashion,” Herbert said. “We’re looking to be innovative.”

Some local companies have also been trying to help with that shortage, by pivoting to manufacture personal protective equipment. The Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism is collecting donated PPE and some state lawmakers have called on businesses to contribute.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

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