SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Utah’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn are crediting the county’s mask mandate for a drop in COVID-19 cases in the city.
During a Facebook “Ask Me Anything” session on Friday afternoon, Dr. Dunn said the link is clear between the mask mandate and the drop in COVID-19 cases.
“Exactly 14 days [after the mandate went into effect], we started seeing a sharp decline in our cases, and that’s continued ever since. And other counties and cities have followed suit behind Salt Lake County with the mask mandate, and we know that is contributing to decreased spread,” Dunn said.
Another reason why Utah might be faring better in the fight against COVID-19 is that younger people are catching the virus, and they are less likely to have a serious case of it. Dr. Dunn believes that is one reason hospitalizations are down.
However, Mayor Mendenhall indicated that Salt Lake City will likely stay in the “orange” risk phase because neighborhoods on the westside aren’t doing as well.
“These numbers are still quite a bit higher than we would like to see, and the rate of decline isn’t great…although it does seem to be stabilizing,” Mendenhall said.
The mayor is asking the council to approve $50,000 for those neighborhoods most at-risk to help with testing and getting supplies, like masks.
Mendenhall also expressed concern for small businesses, who have run out of federal money. She said she’s working with mayors across the country to change the parameters of how the dollars cities get are dispersed.
“As they do, hopefully, another update to the way that cities can spend those CARES Act dollars, that allows us the flexibility to continue to support our small businesses. In case you didn’t know, 90% of the business licenses issued in Salt Lake City proper are small businesses,” Mendenhall said.
When asked about mental health, Dr. Dunn stressed the importance of exercising safely, getting out of the house and sitting in the sun, and calling or video chatting with loved ones.
But she believes Utahns may have to take safety precautions against COVID-19 for awhile.
“This is something that we’re gonna have to keep doing for the next several months until we get a vaccine. So, really taking care of each other and figuring out ways now of how to do that safely is gonna be very important,” Dunn said.
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