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Utah will remain at yellow low-risk level, SLC to remain orange

FILE - In this April 21, 2020 file photo Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a news conference in South Jordan, Utah. The state will remain at its current yellow, low-risk phase of its COVID-19 response plan, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The state of Utah will remain at its current yellow, low-risk phase of its COVID-19 response plan, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday. His previous health order, placing Utah at the yellow phase May 29, was set to expire Friday — opening the opportunity to either stay put or move toward the green “Recovery Phase.”

All current health guidance in the state will remain the same until June 12. 

“Common sense requires keeping our current health risk guidance in place,” Gov. Herbert said in a statement. “We all want to return to more normal patterns of life as soon as possible, but we also do not want to take a step back in our progress against this disease and our reactivation of the economy.”

The governor acknowledges a recent recommendation from the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission, which presents a data-informed plan to move the entire state to green as quickly as possible. However, Gov. Herbert said the recent increases of COVID cases — with the state reporting more than 200 cases a day over the last week — and hospitalizations is causing the state to take a pause. 

“We will continue to analyze data trends with an eye toward balancing overall health risks and protecting high risk populations,” he said. 

As of Friday, all current health risk guidance in the state will remain the same. That means Salt Lake City, Bluff and Mexican Hat will stay in the Orange Phase, with the rest of the state staying in the Yellow. 

“Utah’s Yellow phase guidance emphasizes taking common sense precautions so that we can safely resume regular social and economic pursuits,” the governor said. “Under Yellow risk status there are no economic activities that are categorically prohibited if common sense precautions are in place.”

Despite the lull, Gov. Herbert said some rural areas of the state may be ready to move to the Green “New Normal” Phase by the end of the month. 

The governor will release the specific order later Friday afternoon.