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Governor to announce any new COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday

Governor Herbert face mask
Posted at 12:44 PM, Sep 21, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert is expected to announce new COVID-19 health restrictions on Tuesday.

The governor met for several hours on Monday with his COVID-19 Unified Command, which is overseeing the state's response to the pandemic. It included Lt. Governor Spencer Cox; Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist; Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson; Rich Saunders, the director of Utah's Department of Health; and Taylor Randall, the dean of the University of Utah's Eccles School of Business. FOX 13 was there as the meeting wrapped up on Capitol Hill.

"Right now, we’re not prepared to make any announcements about decisions. The governor has received some recommendations from the Unified Command and will be making an announcement tomorrow," Joe Dougherty, a spokesman for Utah's Department of Public Safety, said.

Pressed on what those recommendations were, Dougherty said they had been previously mentioned by Gov. Herbert himself last week.

"A mask mandate is on the table. Changing certain geographical areas to a different color are on the table as well as a variety of other tools," said Dougherty.

During a news conference last week, Gov. Herbert threatened to move some areas back to "orange" on the state's color-coded restriction scale to grapple with a spike in COVID-19 cases, driven largely by college-age people in Utah County. Local health officials have expressed alarm at off-campus parties and gatherings where people are not following health guidelines that include physical distancing or wearing face coverings.

Utah County leaders have discussed a possible mask mandate, but so far have not taken any action. Under a law passed earlier this year, the governor must give legislative leaders at least 24 hours notice before he announces any decision on restrictions.

Last week, Utah cleared 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for two days in a row. While younger populations are contributing to the surge, it is starting to impact more vulnerable age groups and health officials worry that hospitalizations and deaths will follow in the coming weeks.

"Clearly we’re all concerned about the surge in cases across the state," Dougherty said.

On Monday, the state health department reported 622 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death.