“Not unexpected” said Dr. Dunn after mask mandates in Utah shot down
SALT LAKE CITY — On Tuesday, the first day of the 2022 Legislative Session, Utah senators voted 22-5 to overturn mask mandates in Utah. Each represented a public health order that required residents of Salt Lake and Summit counties to wear masks indoors or while standing in line outside.
The doctor addresses mask mandates in Utah
Executive director at the Salt Lake County Health Department, Dr. Angela Dunn joined KSL NewsRadio hosts Dave & Dujanovic to talk about the actions of legislators to vanquish COVID-19 and the importance of masking in relation to the omicron variant.
“Capitol Hill passed legislation initially allowing a health director, such as yourself, to put these mandates in place,” Dujanovic said. “Do you feel a little whiplash now that they’re attempting to revoke your authority to issue a mask mandate?”
“Well, it’s definitely within their power as SB 195 passed last session dictates that the Legislature can indeed overturn a health order of a local jurisdiction,” Dunn said.
“I do think it’s unfortunate given their priority to keep control at the local level for the COVID response, but not unexpected.”
Battling pandemic together as professionals
Dave Noriega noted that SB195 seemed to strike the right balance between public health directors and city and county elected officials.
“Yeah, and that’s the frustrating part,” Dunn said.
She added that she felt the Salt Lake County Council made an informed decision based on hospitalizations in the county amid the omicron surge because she was updating them.
“They felt prepared to pull the trigger on a massive mandate to prevent further hospitalizations and disruption of our essential services,” Dunn said. “And so we came together as a county to decide what’s best for our residents.
“Now we’re fighting with the state Legislature, which again is unfortunate but not unexpected.”
Don’t infect yourself or others, wear a mask, says doc
Debbie noted that state Sen. Dan McKay, who represents Bluffdale, Draper, Herriman, Lehi, Riverton, and Sandy, said during debate over masks that they don’t work. McKay is Senate sponsor of the bill to terminate public health orders requiring masks.
I likened the requirement to wear a mask like trying to wave your arms out the window of a car to try and slow yourself down. ”
“I didn’t really understand that analogy. But I don’t go around waving my arms out the window of a car. I do mask up. What’s your take on what he said about masks?” Debbie asked.
“I think this kind of hyperbolic language is exactly what’s confusing our citizens on what’s best to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Dunn said.
“Definitely, wearing a mask is not a silver bullet. It’s not 100% proof that you will not get infected with Covid. However, it does drastically decrease your chances of getting infected and then infecting others if you have it.”
She added that wearing a mask will help restaurants and other businesses stay open. Doing so will also help prevent hospitals and healthcare facilities from being overrun and shutting down, she said.
Debbie noted that this week many Utah school districts have moved to online learning during the omicron surge.
“Is a one-week pause on in-person classes long enough in your view?” she asked.
“I think a one-week pause sends home the message that this is serious,” Dunn said. “When it comes to businesses, schools and workplaces, ventilation is key. And we’ve been working with schools and workplaces to make sure that they have access to information about how to improve the ventilation.”
Getting a COVID-19 booster shot and wearing masks are also essential for returning students to class and learning, Dunn said.
Omicron on the way out in US
When do you expect Omicron to peak? Debbie asked.
“Washington, D.C. and New York City were some of the first jurisdictions to feel the Omicron surge and they are on the decline right now.
She said Utah is a fews of weeks behind those East Coast regions.
“However, it might come sooner. Summit County was the first county to see this surge. They’re seeing some good indicators that they’re actually starting to drop already,” Dunn said. But “we’ve got a good two to four weeks left before our hospitals are no longer in crisis mode.”
Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus (updated Jan. 2022)
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 spreads from person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, get your booster shot.
- Wear a mask. Here are the current CDC recommendations (as of Jan. 12, 2022):
- People aged 2 years and older who are not vaccinated should wear a face covering when indoors.
- When outdoors, masks are generally not needed unless you are in a crowded setting.
- Even if they are vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems may still be at risk and should wear a mask indoors.
- Masks should be worn indoors in public in high transmission areas.
- Masks that cover your nose and mouth are required to be worn on planes, busses, trains, and other public transportation when traveling into, within, or out of the United States.
- Stay six feet away from others (social distancing) especially if you are at high risk.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
- Testing. There are several types of tests for you to use if you suspect you are sick. These include viral and antibody tests, conducted by others or by you in your home (self-tests).
- If you test positive, you should isolate. The CDC now recommends a five-day isolation period, followed by five days of mask-wearing when around others.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707