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SLC mayor declares local state of emergency

FILE: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall during a special Salt Lake City Council Meeting Nov. 28, 2019. Mendenhall declared a local state of emergency March 10 ahead of the potential spread of COVID-19. ((Spenser Heaps, Deseret News File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall declared a local state of emergency Tuesday to prepare for the potential spread of COVID-19. This comes just days after the governor declared a state of emergency in Utah, and after health officials confirmed two cases in Utah.

“While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Salt Lake City, it is important that we act preemptively to prepare now. Doing so will help us to ensure our city’s financial stability, and the continuity of vital operations in the event that we experience the spread of this virus,” Mayor Mendenhall said in a statement. “This declaration will equip us with necessary resources and abilities should the need arise.”

The local state of emergency declaration ensures Salt Lake City will be able to access both state and federal funding if it becomes necessary. It also allows Mendenhall to invoke rules to protect the city’s citizens.

These rules can include restrictions on entering or leaving the city, curfew times and other actions to ensure safety.

“While we hope that we won’t have to use any powers under this declaration, ultimately the best thing we can do as a city for our residents is to be prepared,” Mendenhall said.

As the city prepares for a potential spread of the virus, the mayor’s office said these plans include how the city will continue operating critical public services while supporting the needs of vulnerable populations.

Some measures have already been put in place, like coordinating the county and state to ensure continuity of emergency management operations.