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One year later — Gov. Cox reflects one year into the pandemic

   SALT LAKE CITY — It has been a wild last year since the pandemic hit home staring with the Utah Jazz. Utah Governor Spencer Cox joined Tim and Amanda on Utah’s Morning News with a look back over the past year and a look ahead to what’s in store.


An uncorrected transcript of the conversation follows:


Amanda Dickson
Are you concerned at all that removing the mask mandate on April 10 is too soon?

Gov. Spencer Cox
Well, of course, I’m concerned. And that’s why we didn’t have that in our plan, but the legislature did, and that’s their prerogative. And so we work closely with them to get as many days as possible to get more people vaccinated. And so look, I’m less concerned than I was a couple of months ago, and here’s why we’re only removing part of the mass mandate, the mass mandates is still there for school, it’s still there for large gatherings, over 50, the weather’s better cases are going down. So I feel much more comfortable there. Also, businesses can still require math and look, people have personal responsibility. If you don’t feel comfortable, if you haven’t been vaccinated, then you should wear a mask and get a better mask or double mask if you need to, or simply avoid those situations. So So look, I would rather that we had a chance for every adult to get vaccinated, but we were not there yet. And that’s okay. Because starting April 1, we’re planning to open it up to every adult in the state of Utah.

Tim Hughes
I have loved, by the way, your positive attitude about where we’re going, but if we can from it, and let’s talk about the year that was Governor Herbert, of course, put you as his right-hand man in charge of heading this up in Utah. Can you take us back to maybe that first time where the governor and yourself sat down and what the feelings and concerns were at the time?

Gov. Spencer Cox
Sure, Tim, well, mostly, it was just fear of the unknown. And we really didn’t know what we were dealing with. We were hearing reports from overseas, starting to see cases here in the United States. And so we were deeply concerned, but also just we know how resilient Utah is, and, and had faith in that. But it was really a year ago today, this is the day that will mark it for me the night that Rudy Gobert tested positive. And we spent the entire night trying to figure out the logistics of getting the Jazz Team back and what that meant for our state. And really, I think that’s the night it became real for all Utahns and really all Americans. And it was a tough night. And it’s been a tough year for so many people. But again, I wouldn’t trade places with any other state in this country or any other place in the world right now.

Amanda Dickson
What’s been the hardest part of it, as you worked with, then Governor Herbert, and as you became governor and are working with your team now? Is it making decisions about schools? Is it making decisions about mask mandates? Or what’s been the hardest part of it for you?

Gov. Spencer Cox
Well, the hardest part by far has been watching families who have lost loved ones and just the toll that has taken almost 2000 people here in our state, which by the way, was our best-case scenario, when they started in those very early conversations. 2000 was the best case scenario 20,000 was the worst-case scenario. So I’m grateful to be on the best-case scenario. But as far as governing NGOs, the hardest part is is this having to choose between lives and, and livelihoods. That’s a decision no governor should ever have to make. And it’s been an especially tough one for Governor Herbert who was here during the you know, the worst times in the end the brunt of this. And I think maybe even worse is the way it’s torn us apart. Some of the selfishness we’ve seen, you know, the hate, and the arguments on both sides, when this is something that should have should have pulled us together a little more and, and has, by the way for most Utahns. But that those outliers have been pretty, pretty outspoken and pretty ugly.

Tim Hughes
It looks like President Biden will sign this new stimulus bill tomorrow, the $1.9 trillion. And Utah will be getting some of that money, although, since a lot of that state-by-state stimulus is based on the fourth quarter of unemployment rates, we may not get as much as some other states give us your thoughts.

Gov. Spencer Cox
Well, that’s true, we won’t get as much as some other states because we manage the economy better than those states during this crisis. And so look, it’s way too much money. And far too many things that have nothing to do with the pandemic but there are pieces of it that are really good and really helpful. Of course, we should be targeting those families in those industries that have been hardest hit and I fully support that, you know, the restaurant, entertainment arts industry, and then the people who have lost their jobs and been laid off. They’re the ones that definitely need the help. But Utah is doing so well. We were named just two days ago by US News World Report the best economy in the country. Our unemployment rate is at 3.1%. And so we will be getting a good portion of this money and we will do everything we can to put it to the best and most proper use to bless the lives of Utahns.

Amanda Dickson
Well, Governor, we appreciate the work you do and we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you so much.

Gov. Spencer Cox.
Thank you



How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is 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.
  • Wear a mask.
  • 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.
  • Get vaccinated.

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