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Utah House Democrats ‘frustrated’ over COVID-19 surge

In order to avoid a hefty deficit, state lawmakers are planning what will likely be the first-ever virtual special session. (Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — After talks between Gov. Spencer Cox and House and Senate lawmakers last week, Utah’s House Democrats said Tuesday they’re frustrated over the response to surging COVID-19 in Utah by the state legislature and its leaders.

“I think it’s frustration about the fact that we have these really alarmingly high continued rates of infection – especially among our school kids,” said House Minority Leader Brian King.  “And there just seems to be no real desire, or commitment, or resolve.” 

House Democrats issued the following statement urging the legislature to give some power back to public health officials, which under Utah law can have a health order overturned from a county commission or council.

As we have said repeatedly throughout this pandemic, our policies must reflect the guidance of medical and public health experts – not politicians.  Our State Department of Health and the CDC recommends layered prevention strategies like vaccinations for those who are eligible, universal indoor masking in schools, social distancing, proper ventilation and hygiene, and staying home when sick.  We should prioritize preventive measures before endorsing unproven, expensive treatments. 

King said he and his caucus got together and decided they were “not going to remain silent” on the issue.

“We want to make sure that the people of the state of Utah know that somebody up there has a desire, has a recognition that we’ve got to take some action to address this.”

Last week, Senate President Stuart Adams  and Speaker Brad Wilson both spoke to KSL NewsRadio shortly after meetings with Gov. Cox. 

“I wouldn’t say anything was decided today,” Speaker Brad Wilson said on Wednesday. “What we talked a lot about is how do we make sure each school district has the right plan for them that helps stop the spread of the virus if it starts to take hold in one of their schools.”

Wilson mentioned getting COVID-19 information out to schools in a more timely manner.

And said some lawmakers will be getting together to work on ideas the Governor proposed. 

Sen. President Stuart Adams suggested Utah focus more on making monoclonal antibodies available to Utahns infected with COVID-19.

King wants House and Senate leadership teams on both sides of the aisle to get together to come up with a plan.

He and his caucus are hoping to put pressure on the legislature and its leaders, like Wilson and Adams, to let public health officials have greater authority to advise individual school districts, cities, or counties as to what precautions they should take.

“Give greater authority to people at the local level to address these things,” he said. 

 

 

 

 

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