Most statewide public health requirements are lifted, now that the “endgame” goals defined by state lawmakers for the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah have been reached.
But the Utah Department of Health on Tuesday issued a new public health order, as the new law allowed, to continue requiring face masks in schools and routine testing of students involved in sports and other extracurricular activities.
State health officials announced Tuesday that the three criteria set by HB294 — the so-called COVID-19 “endgame” bill — had been reached:
• A 14-day case rate of less than 191 infections per 100,000 people in Utah; the rate is now at 163.4.
• A seven-day average of COVID-19 patients accounting for under 15% of intensive care unit beds; the rate is now at 11.2%.
• And more than 1,633,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine be allocated to the state; there now have been 1,656,025 first doses allocated to Utah.
Rich Saunders, UDOH’s executive director, acknowledged in a letter to legislative leadership that HB294 has been controversial, but said “today should give us all a reason to celebrate. No matter which side someone falls on, we can all be proud of the outcomes we have achieved so far.”
HB294 allowed UDOH to continue orders that affect K-12 schools. The new order issued Tuesday expires on the last day of the school year, or June 1, whichever comes first.
“It’s important not to give up the ground we have gained, especially in our schools,” said Saunders. “We’re asking teachers, administrators, parents, and students to please hang in there, and finish the year on a healthy note.”
HB294, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed after objecting to some of its provisions, also ended the statewide mask mandate on April 10.
UDOH will continue its COVID-19 transmission index, the system of rating counties as having “high,” “moderate” or “low” levels of spreading the coronavirus. From here on out, though, the index will only be an advisory tool for people and businesses.
The Salt Lake Tribune will update this developing story.
Statewide public health rules expire as Utah reaches COVID-19 goals set by lawmakers /p>