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Salt Lake County leaders: mask mandate is working

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson celebrated a decrease in COVID-19 cases and attributed that to a mask mandate that took effect earlier in July. Photo: KSL NewsRadio/Facebook Live

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the mask mandate enacted two weeks ago is clearly working, based on data from Utah health officials. 

Wilson said before the mask mandate took effect on June 27, Salt Lake County accounted for 60% of Utah’s COVID-19 cases. Since the order, that number has dropped to 40% of the state’s cases in just two weeks. 

“Face coverings are one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said David Schuld, a leader of Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan.  

He also pointed to a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Salt Lake County.


The data behind the mask mandate

Mayor Wilson noted since the mask order was established, the county has begun to stabilize the hospitalization and infection rate. According to Wilson, the mask mandate is helping prevent overwhelming the county’s hospital.  

Schuld said required face coverings directly correlate to the drop in hospitalizations from a high 6% to a low 5%. Additionally, Schuld stated the county’s infection rate has declined from 2.7% to just above 1%. 

The county’s goal is to have a transmission rate below 1% but Mayor Wilson mentioned it would take some time before that’s possible. 

Mayor Wilson continued to call upon Governor Gary Herbert to mandate masks statewide, especially with school going back into session.  

Gary Edwards, Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, also stated a mask mandate is imperative to controlling case surges. 

“We need a mask order,” said Edwards. “What we need to do is control surges.” He said while Salt Lake County is seeing coronavirus cases stabilize, the rest of the state is experiencing the opposite. 

Mask mandate compliance in Salt Lake County

Salt Lake County health department officials visited 44 stores around the county to evaluate compliance with the mask mandate. He said his staff found 96% of Salt Lake County customers and 99% of employees wore masks; they did not consider anyone whose mask was under their nose as being in compliance. 

“The face-covering order is a successful public health tool,” Edwards concluded. 

Edwards pointed out in order to eradicate the virus, community members must do their part in practicing physical distancing and personal hygiene. 

At a news conference earlier in the day, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said a decrease in cases in Salt Lake County correlates with the mask mandate; however, she said there are too many variables to declare that the mask mandate alone caused the decrease. However, she said it was an encouraging trend.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States