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Students speak out for masks during state COVID-19 update

Students at Enterprise High School in Washington County asked their parents not to protest the wearing of masks so they can stay in school. Gov. Gary Herbert invited three of those students to speak at a news conference Wednesday. Photo: Screen grab from Facebook

SALT LAKE CITY — Students from Enterprise High School in Washington County spoke at a news conference alongside Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday to explain why they don’t want their parents to protest wearing masks. 

Students say masks help them stay in school

The students were part of the group who stood up in support of wearing masks at a football game Friday night. One of the three students, Dallee Cobb, also spoke this week with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic

“We want to be here. And we don’t want parents to be pushing this agenda… because we’re willing to do it,” Cobb said Wednesday via Zoom. “We want to be here.” 

She and two other students spoke briefly to say that wearing masks allows them to keep going to school, which is what they want. They say they don’t want to be sent home again by COVID-19 like they were in the spring. 

“We the adults ought to follow that lead,” Herbert said at the end of the news conference, describing the students as wise beyond their years. 

School year different, but promising

Tami Pyfer, the governor’s education advisor, praised the efforts of school districts across the state to open the school year. She said there have been challenges, but everyone is working hard to address them, whether the learning is happening online or in-person. 

“I feel like we’re off to a great start for the school year,” she said. 

Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Utahns’ collective work to slow the spread of coronavirus shows in the progress over the month of August. At the beginning of the month, she said the state recorded a rolling 7-day average of new cases of nearly 500; at the end of the month, that number is closer to 400. 

“I’m confident that we can continue moving in this direction. Let’s stay committed to doing what we know works,” she said. 

Daily COVID-19 case counts released

State health officials reported 407 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with four additional deaths attributed to the virus. That means since the beginning of the outbreak, Utah has recorded 50,174 cases of coronavirus and 401 deaths. The state says 118 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 40 of those patients are in intensive care. 

Of those who died, health officials said all four are men. The health department identified the youngest, a Davis County resident, as between the ages of 25 and 44, but did not know if that person was a patient in a hospital or a long-term care facility. The other three were residents of Salt Lake County, Utah County, and Wasatch County; all were residents of long-term care facilities, and all were over the age of 45. 

The state considers 41,937 of its total coronavirus cases “recovered,” meaning diagnosis came more than three weeks ago and the patient did not die.

Decline in testing

Both Herbert and Dunn noted a drop in the total number of COVID-19 tests performed in recent days; Dunn suggested it could be the result of fewer people experiencing symptoms. However, she encouraged people who feel sick to get tested. 

Herbert asked Dunn if cost might be keeping some people from being tested. 

“For the vast majority of people out there, if you have to get tested because it’s medically necessary… it is free,” Dunn said. 

Herbert urged anyone with any one of the typical coronavirus symptoms to seek testing. The symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches and pains, loss of taste or smell, and other symptoms.

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