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Cache County petitions Governor Herbert to give it 'green' COVID-19 risk status

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 22:03:43-04

LOGAN, Utah — After one of the largest spikes in COVID19 yet, the Cache County Council is writing a petition for Governor Gary Herbert, asking to lower the county's COVID19 risk level and loosen restrictions.

During the council meeting on Wednesday, members discussed the impacts on mental health and the economy currently and in the future.

“With a 1.1-percent mortality rate, I don’t understand why, in June, we’re still in the so called yellow phase,” said Gina Worthen, a Cache County Councilwoman. “People can be responsible for their own health.”

For Jon White, who was the only one to vote against the petition, he sees what the virus is doing to the people he represents—they are the ones who are infected.

“We did flatten the curve, we did slow it down and we are making progress,” White said. “All of a sudden we get a big spike and we don’t understand how big that spike is going to get.”

The Bear River Health Department reported 58 new cases as of Wednesday evening, bringing the total number in their district to 922.

861 of those cases come from Cache County and nearly 300 confirmed cases can be traced to a meat packing plant.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” said White. “Maybe in three weeks it will smooth out and be back to seven or eight cases a week—then that’s a different story.”

In a statement, Bear River Health Department Spokesperson Joshua Greer said, “it is important to remember green is not lower risk, but requires fewer restrictions… as a local health department, our job is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 no matter what phase we are in.”

During a press conference, Thursday, Gov. Herbert said he would take a look at where the increase of cases is coming from before making a decision on the petition.

“Our infection rates are up, but it’s because of the meat packing firm in Hyrum,” said Gov. Herbert. “Therefore, we could approve the request to move to a less restrictive designation.”

In order for the petition to be granted, the Bear River Health Department would have to first put a request in with the state health department, which would then evaluate and give its best guidance.

More important than the color of restrictions in place, said council members, is allowing their county member to make a choice.

“We need to empower the people,” said Councilman David Erickson. “We need to give personal responsibility back to them.”