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Eighty Percent of Summit County Sheriff's Office Employees Opted Into COVID-19 Vaccine, Sheriff Says

Summit County Sheriff's Office

With Utah’s mask mandate having expired on Saturday, April 10, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez says we are entering the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Martinez says the community has done a very good job responding to the crisis and hopes citizens will continue to practice tolerance and civility.


Martinez also reiterated that local businesses have the right to require masks on their premises in the same way that “no shoes, no shirt, no service” has always applied.


“If people come into their establishment and are not wearing masks, at that point the business owners can ask them to leave,” he said. “And if they refuse to leave because I’ve heard, ‘well, it’s my right to eat here,’ it’s not. It’s your choice to eat there. It’s the business individual that has a right to refuse service to you. And so if we get a call that someone’s not wearing a mask, we can trespass them off the property.”


He asked locals to practice “mask tolerance.”


“For those individuals that want to wear a mask, and for those individuals that choose not to wear a mask. Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong. And so I hope this community—and I believe we have done a really good job—and I don’t anticipate, and there’s nothing that would give me any indication, that we’d do anything other than be tolerant here. But my hope is that we start a tolerance campaign toward; if you want to wear masks, knock yourself out, and don’t get on somebody because they are wearing a mask. And vice versa, if somebody’s not wearing a mask, it’s not your place to tell them, ‘You have to wear a mask, why aren’t you wearing a mask.”


On a related note, he said that vaccination efforts have gone very well for his department and for inmates at the Summit County Justice Center’s jail.


“I was hoping for 100, but we had 80% of the Sheriff’s Office get vaccinated,” he said. “Some of those that chose not to get vaccinated were those that said they already had Covid, and didn’t feel like they needed to. Right or wrong, but they didn’t do that. The jail population, we probably have 90% of the jail population that’s been vaccinated. The really, really good news is that Summit County the jail did not have one case of Covid through the jail, the way we chose to bring people in and isolate them for seven days and do the rapid testing on them before we put them in general population. So we (had) zero spread in the jail. And I also, I’m very proud to report that, with my deputies, I didn’t have a single case of spread within the Sheriff’s Office.”


The Sheriff said that hopefully his officers will soon be able to participate in local parades.


He said there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but he added a caveat.


“I think if we stay focused, and we stay tolerant and we stay positive, hopefully by mid-summer, July, it will even be in a much better position. I believe that moving forward, probably for the rest of my life, is that we’re going to have the cold, flu and coronavirus season. I think we’re going to--I don’t think this is going to go away permanently anytime soon, unfortunately.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.