As Utah experiences a crush of latest COVID-19 infections, Salt Lake County Well being Division Government Director Dr. Angela Dunn has issued a public well being order requiring masks.
The order takes impact at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. It’s designed to final for 30 days, expiring at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7.
It requires everybody within the county to put on well-fitting masks indoors, no matter vaccination standing, and likewise applies to these queuing outside. Youngsters below 2, these with sure medical situations and people actively consuming or consuming at a restaurant are exempt.
In a information launch asserting the mandate Friday, Dunn stated the transfer was in response to the quickly spreading omicron variant.
“We desperately want to make use of each device accessible to make sure our hospitals can proceed offering wonderful well being care by way of this surge,” Dunn stated. “We additionally want to make sure that our important companies have the employees essential to function — from legislation enforcement, to plow drivers, to schoolteachers. It’s my obligation as well being officer to take the motion I consider has the perfect likelihood to forestall pointless struggling all through our neighborhood.”
Dunn can subject a mandate as well being director, however the County Council can overturn it.
She instructed The Salt Lake Tribune she doesn’t count on a veto from the Republican-led council and that the mandate has assist “from either side” after latest discussions with council members about mitigation methods.
Council members voted on get together strains in August to repeal Dunn’s earlier masks mandate for colleges, utilizing its veto-proof GOP majority.
“We’re pushing vaccinations and boosters,” council chair Laurie Stringham stated Thursday night time when requested for touch upon a attainable mandate.
Dunn hopes the masks rule won’t must be prolonged past its allotted 30 days and inspired people to get vaccinated to forestall one other spike.
She additionally urged residents to accumulate higher-quality masks, since KN95 masks are extra profitable in stopping transmission of the variant than fabric ones. She stated these masks shall be accessible Saturday at libraries, senior facilities and different neighborhood buildings.
In a letter issued earlier Friday to the County Council, Salt Lake Metropolis Mayor Erin Mendenhall urged a masks requirement and expressed alarm over transmission charges within the county. She famous that the seven-day common of constructive circumstances on Dec. 26 was 450, a quantity that rocketed to 1,450 this week. And the Utah Division of Well being reported a file variety of statewide infections Friday, topping 9,000.
“Instances are exploding in Utah,” Mendenhall wrote, “and well being consultants warn that we’ve but to see the height from the omicron surge.”
The mayor famous that 65% of eligible county residents haven’t acquired a booster vaccine, resulting in considerations that hospitals will quickly be overwhelmed with contaminated sufferers. Mendenhall added that there quickly is probably not sufficient wholesome medical doctors and nurses to deal with the surge in circumstances.
“I’m additionally carefully watching the pattern throughout the nation of metropolis mayors being pressured to declare states of emergency attributable to staffing shortages of their public security departments,” the mayor wrote. “Group unfold impacts each operate of our authorities, and, as public officers, we’ve a duty to maintain our staff protected.”
In the meantime, mere days after changing into chair of the County Council, Stringham confirmed she has examined constructive for COVID-19.
“Clearly omicron is a really highly effective variant,” Stringham stated, “and it’s breaking by way of the vaccinations.”
The Republican council member acquired her constructive check Wednesday night time, she stated, including that’s she’s totally vaccinated and that the an infection “hit fairly quick and livid” however her signs are enhancing.
“I’m hoping it passes shortly,” Stringham wrote through textual content message Thursday night. “The County Well being Division is recording alarming an infection charges proper now. It can be crucial for folks to speak to their medical doctors and take what precautions are finest for them and their households.”
Stringham was chosen as chair throughout the council’s common Tuesday assembly. She was additionally considered one of solely two members who didn’t put on a masks, at the same time as Dunn introduced details about mounting COVID-19 infections within the county.
That very same day, county officers issued a public well being advisory urging the general public to take extra severe pandemic precautions, together with sporting masks indoors and out of doors, even for people who find themselves vaccinated. Stringham urged the general public to take the advisory severely.
The well being division’s information launch notes that the aim of the well being order is to guard the general public and hold crucial industries staffed, “to not maintain somebody criminally liable.” It urged enterprise homeowners and different operators of public areas to assist implement the mandate.
The entire order will publish at SaltLakeHealth.org by 5:30 p.m. Friday.
In a written assertion, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, a Democrat, famous that COVID-19 infections are at an all-time excessive within the county. She referred to as on elected officers, neighborhood leaders and companies to encourage residents to get vaccinated, boosted and don masks.
“Whereas it’s encouraging that — due to vaccination — we don’t count on the overall inhabitants to see as extreme an sickness as earlier than,” Wilson wrote, “the speedy improve in whole circumstances … is placing super pressure on our hospital system.”
On Thursday, Summit County introduced its personal masks mandate for all public buildings till Feb. 21.
In her letter to the Salt Lake County Council, Mendenhall stated a countywide mandate would supply extra safety than a requirement in Salt Lake Metropolis alone.
“Please do all in your energy to guard our residents, our well being care and front-line staff, and hold colleges and companies open by quickly requiring masks in public areas countywide,” the mayor wrote. “All of us need a return to regular, and protecting as many individuals out of the hospital as attainable is a quite simple manner to assist us get there.”
— Tribune reporter Jordan Miller contributed to this story.