PROVO, Utah — The presidents of the two universities in the center of Utah's current COVID-19 case rise have warned students about changing their behavior before "dramatic action" will be taken.
BYU President Kevin Worthen and UVU President Astrid Tuminez issued a joint statement Tuesday, just moments after it was announced the cities of Provo and Orem would be placed under orange on the state's restriction scale.
Orange is categorized as a moderate level of restriction and requires citizens to wear a mask at all times in public.
"Behavior must change. We implore you to stay home except for in-person classes, work, church, and other essentials." the presidents say in the statement. "We ask that you limit your social interactions to only those within your household and avoid small gatherings where individuals aren’t wearing masks or maintaining physical distance."
Utah County's case numbers are the largest in the state, with the blame placed on students who have been seen attending parties and other events without masks or practicing social distancing.
Since the beginning of the fall semester, BYU students have accounted for 1,014 COVID-19 cases.
While pleading with students to stay home if they feel sick and follow quarantine rules, Worthen and Tuminez ended the statement with a warning about what would be in store should cases continue to rise.
"If circumstances do not improve within the next two weeks, more dramatic action will be necessary. This may include a two-week quarantine, closing campuses to the public or a complete retreat to all-remote instruction for the rest of the semester."