SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Even after Utah's House of Representatives voted to overturn local health orders which negate mask mandates issued by Summit and Salt Lake Counties, officials are still making a plea for people to wear masks in public.
”In spite of the misguided actions of the Legislature today, please continue to wear good-quality masks while in public. We are at very high rates of COVID spread and we are hopeful to have the Omicron variant of the virus behind us soon," said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.
"Health experts agree masks worn properly help contain the spread of COVID. Let's all help keep our teachers teaching, our students learning, our hospitals operating, and our residents healthy.”
The resolution drew a similar response from Summit County Health Director Dr. Phil Bondurant, who said that mask mandate followed all legal requirements with considerable consideration from stakeholders.
"I remain firm in my belief that the actions taken by Summit County and the Summit County Health Department over the last two years have saved lives. Although the outcome of the vote regarding SJR003 provides a different direction than our Public Health Order, I still believe the action taken to require masks in public places, including schools, was the right one for Summit County," said Dr. Bondurant.
Utah ranked third in the country regarding the highest daily average COVID-19 case rate as of January 17, with case counts still well above 10,000.
Earlier this month, the state suspended "test-to-stay" in Utah schools so that they could pivot to remote learning in the wake of exploding case numbers.
The sentiments by Wilson and Bondurant were echoed by Dr. Angela Dunn, Salt Lake County's health director, who warned people to "get boosted or get COVID" at the close of 2021.
“Effectively protecting our most vulnerable community members—and ensuring that our businesses and essential services have the staff necessary to operate—requires layering our various prevention tools; this includes being up to date on vaccine, staying home when ill, and wearing a respirator mask in public during this surge, said Dr. Dunn.
Salt Lake County has high-quality masks available for no charge at library branches and senior centers.
"We encourage Salt Lake County residents and visitors to do these things, regardless of whether or not a mandate is in place.”