Utah Will Put Forth 'Disaster Declaration' To Access Federal Funds For COVID-19
State leaders are treating Utah’s COVID-19 outbreak as an emergency.
The state has convened a unified command to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Each day, representatives from the Utah Department of Health, Emergency Management, the Utah National Guard and other state agencies, as well as a representative from FEMA, coordinate their response efforts at the Emergency Operations Center in the state capitol. Their objective is to address impacts to health and the economy as well as communicate plans to the public.
Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson is leading the command. He says the emergency operations center is at level one activation, which allows the state to access additional resources.
“Later today, we will be declaring, or at least putting forward, the state’s major disaster declaration to the president of the United States,” Anderson said. “This, again, would open up opportunities for us to use resources at a federal level, along with logistics but also fiscal responsibilities that can come as an assistance to all of us out of the federal levels.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says he’s received criticism that he’s put out the same message over and over – that people need to stay home, practice physical distancing and improve their hygiene. Herbert says that repetition is intentional.
“We are very single-minded in our goal to, in fact, slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Herbert said. “We are single-minded of purpose, that we’re going to make sure that people understand the plan of action that we have out there and that we’re still in that urgent phase.”
Herbert says the number one need in this response is testing. The state conducted 4,000 tests Monday, the most in Utah in one day, but Herbert says the goal to slow the spread of COVID-19 is 7,000 tests per day.
To move out of the urgent phase of the state’s COVID-19 response, the transmission rate from person to person needs to drop below one to one. Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough says transmission rate estimates for Utah hover around two, meaning for every one person infected, that person typically infects two additional people.