On Tuesday Utah leaders announced a new program as the state prepares to move to a stabilization phase in their response to COVID-19. The state is making face coverings available for free with their new ‘mask for every Utahn’ initiative.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox explained Utah is using federal funding provided through the CARES act to purchase the two million masks. Twenty local companies will help produce the masks and Cox says the project will keep 200 Utahns employed.
Due to expected demand, Cox says residents should only order one mask and not request a mask if they already have one.
“These are quality reusable masks that will last for many months and even years,” Cox said. “Only one order will be allowed per household, with only six masks being allowed per order. Masks are one size fits all and are generally more adapted for older youth and adults. I also want to temper some expectations. We finalized the arrangements and companies started production, just last week. When an order is submitted it could take up to three weeks before it is filled depending on the current availability and time of the order.”
Cox points out that wearing a face covering—whether it be a reusable mask, bandana or scarf—can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We know that this disease is spread through droplets,” Cox explained. “By wearing a mask—even if we don't know we have the disease if we're asymptomatic—it stops our droplets from spreading and impacting someone else. If we're all wearing masks, we know that the measure of spread will go down significantly.”
Cox says the state also plans to deliver masks to first responders as well as underserved populations through nonprofits, as well as grocery and convenience stores.
“We want to continue to move forward from the orange phase to the yellow phase,” Cox continued. “If we all do our part and we all wear these masks in public, there's a real possibility we can get there sooner rather than later. What we don't want is to backslide, where we have a significant increase in infections, in deaths, in hospitalization rates. That would force us, in some areas of the state, back into red. So please please, please, we're asking you to help each other out. We know it's an inconvenience. We know it's not fun, but knowing that this can prevent us from doing what we’ve had to do for the last five or six weeks will help us grow our economy, will help us get people back to work, and save lives.”
Ordering masks can be done through the state's coronavirus website, a link to the page can be found here.