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Gov. Herbert warns of stricter COVID-19 restrictions

Gov. Herbert
Posted at 1:32 PM, Sep 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert is warning that more strict COVID-19 measures will be taken after Utah recorded a record-high number of COVID-19 cases.

On Friday, the state recorded 1,117 new cases of the deadly virus, the most since the pandemic began in March. It tops Thursday's record-breaking 911.

"Whatever bad they were yesterday, they’re worse today," Gov. Herbert said in a brief interview with FOX 13 on Friday at the Capitol.

The governor said he was glad to hear Utah County Commissioners meeting with mayors to discuss solutions. He called for county leaders to get a handle on the situation as Utah County is behind a dramatic spike, threatening more restrictions. Health officials have blamed college-age people who are disregarding health guidelines with off-campus parties and other gatherings.

"I’m pleased to hear that," he said, when informed of the emergency conference call by FOX 13. "I’m anxious to see what they come up with."

One commissioner has proposed a countywide face mask mandate. Others want educational campaigns aimed at student populations. Gov. Herbert told FOX 13 he was aware that some spots of the state may not need a mandate, while others do.

"There are regional differences throughout our state and what works on one county or is required in one county may not be in another and vice-versa," he said.

The governor said the good news is hospitalizations and mortality rates remain low. He reiterated his emphasis on balancing "lives and livelihoods" between managing the pandemic and an economic collapse. On Friday, Utah got good news with a 4.1% unemployment rate, down slightly from last month (the nation's unemployment rate is at 8.4%).

Gov. Herbert told FOX 13 he will meet over the weekend with his cabinet and COVID-19 Unified Command to discuss next steps on a statewide level. He said such action may be imminent, and urged Utahns to follow health guidelines of physical distancing (staying at least 6-feet from others), good hygiene, wearing face coverings in public and staying home when sick.

"I’m anxious to have the weekend, see what the data tells us, what the medical advice is, what the science will inform us," Gov. Herbert said. "Then we’ll have to make some decisions here next week, I expect, as far as what do we do? If we do anything."