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Salt Lake County's stay-at-home order will be extended —maybe until Memorial Day

SL Co. closed order
Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 19:17:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said she is prepared to extend her stay-at-home order for months, if necessary.

In an interview Monday with FOX 13, the mayor said the latest data modeling shows Utah's coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are expected to peak in late April. But that will not mean the end of social distancing.

"If you accept that our peak is going to be in late April, that’s what the data is showing, we’re still going to have cases on May 1st and 5th and 10th and 15th," Mayor Wilson said. "We don’t want for it to come back and flatten us. So we have to be wise."

With Salt Lake County's original stay-at-home order expected to expire mid-April, the mayor said it would be extended. She raised the possibility of it lasting until the end of May.

"One thing we could do is just say 'Hey, Memorial Weekend,' right? Let’s assume we’re going to be closed until then," Mayor Wilson told FOX 13. "Or we could do shorter. My sense is we probably want to go longer, just to give people a chance to plan and should we find a way to phase back in, we can do that."

Mayor Wilson said she knows the impact to workers and businesses is hard. She praised people for following the Salt Lake County Health Department's order, which urges people to stay home and only traveling for necessary things like food. People can still go outside for a walk, but they are instructed to follow social distancing guidelines. The health department has closed some businesses where social distancing cannot be followed.

The mayor said they will do what they can to help businesses and restaurants recover from the economic hit.

"The sooner this is behind us, the more lives are saved and the sooner we’re back to business," Mayor Wilson said.

Salt Lake, Davis, Summit, Wasatch, Weber and Morgan counties have all issued stay-at-home orders. Governor Gary Herbert so far has resisted calls for a statewide order. He has instead issued a directive calling for Utahns to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The governor has, however, supported local health agencies and governments who issue their own orders, arguing that they can determine what is best for their communities.

The Utah County Health Department said Monday it intended to stay with the governor's directive and not issue an order at this point.

"Our infection rate is still very much in line with what the statewide rate is, which means it’s lower than some places along the Wasatch Front," Ralph Clegg, the Utah County Health Department's Executive Director, told FOX 13. "But we’ll certainly look at that and see if that’s what needs to be done."

On Monday, the Utah Department of health reported 13 deaths statewide from COVID-19. There were 1,675 positive cases and 138 hospitalizations since the beginning of the outbreak. So far, the state has recorded 33,394 tests being administered.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said the Utah Department of Health and the governor's office continue to review whether a statewide order is necessary.

"The stay-at-home directive is expected to be followed by everyone in Utah. We are expecting everyone stay at home and only leave for critical services and maintain social distancing for the coming weeks and months," Dr. Dunn said.

Dr. Dunn said that once COVID-19 cases in Utah start to decline, it does not mean the end of social distancing or stay-at-home requirements.

"It is important to know that when we start seeing a decline in cases, it’s important to maintain social distancing measures until we see a decrease in cases," she said. "If we lift restrictions too early, we do risk seeing a resurgence of cases, so that timing of when to lift cases is essential."