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How are Salt Lake County residents handling new mask mandate?

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 21:03:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY — No one wants to see schools and businesses close again or hospital systems become too overwhelmed to serve, so the Salt Lake County mask order will be in place for at least the next 30 days.

READ: Utah implementing changes at COVID-19 testing sites

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says she didn’t want to delay having this mask order go into effect, and that’s why she called on the county and the health department to step in, and that request was granted just hours ago.

“Our path back to normal is about vaccination and in the meantime, it’s about wearing masks,” said Mendenhall.

The return of the mandate follows an alarming surge of omicron, and residents responded to being asked to mask up once again.

“I’m kind of frustrated with how often people don’t wear masks, so I definitely support that. I’m trying to protect people, that’s why we wear the masks so when people don’t I feel like they’re just in it for themselves,” said Christy.

Mayor Mendenhall decided to reach out to both the health department and the County Council because just issuing a city-wide order would not be enough.

“A crest, a wave, a surge like this, unlike any that we’ve ever seen before in the state of Utah, is a threat to everybody because it because the systems that we rely on as Utahns are compromised,” Mendenhall said.

With three days straight of record-breaking COVID-19 cases reported across Utah, hospitals and healthcare workers are trying to keep things from falling apart.

“The capacity issues in the ICU are what really shake me to a core as a resident. Should a family member need care and the system is unable to give it, that’s something we never want to see anywhere in the state of Utah,” said Mendenhall.

It’s a move most businesses in the county support.

“We have heard from the hospitality and the retail industry in particular, that this would be helpful, which is something we heard at other times during waves in the past, that being able to say this is a government decision, is something businesses would rather lean on than their own independent decision,” said Mendenhall.

Dr. Angela Dunn, the executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, recommends wearing respirators, such as KN95 masks, instead of cloth masks, if possible.

Mendenhall says Salt Lake City is 66% fully vaccinated, while Salt Lake County is over 60% vaccinated and the majority of county cases are unvaccinated or not boosted.