SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert met with White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield to discuss the state's handling of COVID-19.
The private meeting, held at the Governor's Mansion on Saturday, lasted about 90 minutes. FOX 13 is told the federal leaders offered suggestions and discussed ways to help combat the spread of the deadly virus as Utah's hospitals inch closer to capacity and health care workers are overwhelmed.
On Saturday, Utah reported 1,724 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 604. Utah's Department of Health reported 317 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
Dr. Birx and Dr. Redfield were pleased to see most of Utah is under a mask mandate now that the state has transitioned to a new risk/restriction scale with the transmission index, FOX 13 is told. It is something the White House recommended months ago.
The two did not recommend any further lockdowns or restrictions on businesses, as that is not the driver of spread. The latest data indicates COVID-19 is spreading because of casual social gatherings, where people gather with family and friends. That is something that is happening in Utah and in other states.
Currently under Utah's new transmission index, counties in the "high level" are required to limit gatherings to 10 people or less. An emphasis was placed on limiting social gatherings to those in your household only. It was something Gov. Herbert echoed in a series of tweets on Saturday.
"Because of this, committing not to socialize with people outside your household is the best thing you can do to stop the virus, protect our hospital capacity, and save lives," the tweets said. "Please resist the temptation to gather with extended family and friends this evening, and consider celebrating Halloween with a small party of those you live with."
Because of this, committing not to socialize with people outside your household is the best thing you can do to stop the virus, protect our hospital capacity, and save lives.— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) October 31, 2020
The federal liaisons also offered suggestions for ways to do more targeted testing to determine COVID-19 spread in communities.
Dr. Redfield and Dr. Birx have been visiting leaders in states that have seen surges in COVID-19 cases. They recently met with Idaho Governor Brad Little.