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Herbert challenges Utah to lower average COVID-19 case counts by Sept. 1

Gov. Gary Herbert addresses reporters in a news conference on Thursday, July 16, 2020. Photo: Facebook Live

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert urged Utah residents to stay vigilant while noting there are reasons to be optimistic, with the state’s rolling 7-day average of daily positive COVID-19 test results holding under 500. 

In a news conference, Herbert challenged Utahns to reduce the average daily case count from under 500 a day to under 400 a day by Sept. 1, 2020. 

Herbert spoke alongside state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn Thursday. You can watch the live news conference below.

A new daily average COVID-19 goal for Utah

On Thursday, new numbers from the Utah Department of Health showed the state added 587 cases of COVID-19 from the day before. The rolling 7-day average for percent of positive laboratory results stayed at 10%, with 5,069 new tests performed. The numbers mean the rolling 7-day average for positive tests remains under 500 at 449 per day, according to health officials. 

Herbert previously challenged Utahns to get its average daily positive COVID-19 test count under 500 per day by Aug. 1, 2020, a goal the state reached. Now, he says, the state needs to focus on a new goal of under 400 daily positive test results on average by the beginning of September. 

The state reported three new deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 330. Two involved patients between the ages of 45 and 64, a Davis County and a Salt Lake County resident. The third involved a patient over the age of 85 in Utah County. All three were either hospitalized or residents of long-term care facilities. 

“We want to make sure our fatality rate is low and it is. It’s the lowest in the nation,” Herbert said.

Additionally, Herbert said if any county wants a mask mandate, the state will approve the request. When asked if Herbert would enforce a statewide mask mandate, he said he wants to give local governments control of a mandate but statewide option is “still a tool in the tool box.” 

Back-to-school policies updated 

Dunn clarified that guidelines for opening schools are being constantly reviewed. Based on feedback, she said health officials removed language around something called “modified quarantine” from a handbook on schools and COVID-19. Any student, teacher or staff member exposed to COVID-19 will be expected to follow standard quarantine, meaning they should stay home from school for 14 days. 

Tami Pyfer, the governor’s education advisor, asked for patience from the public as schools work to create plans that keep students safe. She encouraged the public to weigh in with local officials. 

“Let’s all rise together and stand as one,” Pyfer said. 

The governor, epidemiologist, and education adviser all stressed that local school decisions are left up to local school leadership.

“I want to make it clear I have not ordered the re-opening of schools,” Herbert said.

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