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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Gov. Gary Herbert Adresses Questions About New COVID-19 Restrictions

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The governor announced new COVID-19 health orders on Sunday that went into effect Monday afternoon. 

During a press conference on Monday, Governor Gary Herbert clarified some of the new restrictions in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He announced new health orders Sunday night which mandate masks until further notice and restrict social gatherings to same households until Nov. 23. 

While there are penalties for people who do not follow the rules, Herbert said many of the restrictions fall on individual compliance. 

“Again, I know what the reality is, it's going to be hard to identify,” Herbert said. “And it's going to be hard to enforce, but it is enforceable. This is less about government mandates and us telling you what to do. It's more about taking personal responsibility.”

He said they are restricting gatherings for two weeks because that’s the incubation period. 

State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn said 14-days should be enough time to see case numbers decrease.

 

“Again, it's gonna really depend on all of us adhering to these principles, and we'll watch the data to see what is needed past the two weeks,” Dunn said.

When Herbert was asked if the order could be extended past two weeks, he said he wanted to remain positive. 

“Well, let's not think negatively, let's think positively that people in fact will gather together and unite in a common effort for the common good,” he said.

Under the new restrictions, businesses can remain open and places of worship can decide if they want to mandate masks. 

“It's certainly an attempt to find the right balance point of making sure we do what we need to do to protect people's health, and yet allow people to still have their first amendment rights of worship, not telling churches how to conduct themselves,” Herbert said. “I think that's inappropriate. Making sure that businesses can continue to function, they're still open for business with appropriate protocols in place”

For the next two weeks, all extra curricular activities are cancelled except high school playoff/championship games and intercollegiate sports. Herbert clarified that the audience for games is restricted. He said players can bring two fans to the stadium and they must wear masks and maintain distance. 

He also clarified that athletic events hosted by private companies, like dance teams and karate classes are allowed to continue through the two week period as long as they adhere to mask mandates and social distancing. 

Herbert also updated the state of emergency on Monday to include that bars can be open until 10 p.m. And he said restaurants do not have to ask patrons if they are from the same household. 

“That burden is placed upon the individuals themselves that come into the restaurant,” he said. “And we've asked people that, in fact, for the next two weeks to sacrifice a bit and make sure that they're associations with members of their own household and not outside that arena.”

The last part of the new health orders expand testing. College students will be tested once a week starting no later than Jan. 1. These will be rapid tests, which do not require medical personnel to administer the test. 

 

“We could get up to 20-30,000 a day,” he said. “We have the ability with the federal help to do that. We are going to certainly make that attempt.”

And Dunn addressed concerns about the increase in testing yielding more positive results.

 

“Initially, when we roll out a lot of testing at once, we will likely find additional cases,” Dunn said. “Over the coming weeks and months, that will result in a decrease in spread and a decrease in cases, because individuals who have very mild symptoms, or perhaps no symptoms at all, will know their COVID status. And they will be able to isolate appropriately preventing spread from additional individuals.” 

She said increasing testing will decrease hospitalizations and deaths throughout the state.

 

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