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SLC mayor warns about sliding back to 'orange' restrictions for COVID-19

Erin Mendenhall
Posted at 10:19 AM, Sep 30, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Erin Mendenhall warned that Salt Lake City could slide back to an "orange" restriction level as the state continued to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"According to the state and county departments of health, the biggest increase in the county is coming from social gatherings of young people not wearing masks," she said in a briefing to the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday. "So as a result of that, we're seeing cases in older people increase because of younger people bringing it home."

This week brought some improvements in data, Mayor Mendenhall said. Salt Lake City's percent positivity rate is just below 8% with stronger testing numbers. The goal is 5%, she said. Salt Lake City's proxy transmission rate is currently 1.47 (with a goal of 1.0).

"Our active positive cases per 100,000 people seems to be heading back down right now," she said. "It peaked at nearly 400."

The Utah Department of Health's criteria to shift restriction levels includes percent positivity, aggregate positive cases per 100,000 people and the proxy rate. Based on that, the mayor suggested, Salt Lake City is very close to shifting back to orange.

Mayor Mendenhall said she was working with the Salt Lake County Health Department on how to communicate to people about the data and how it impacts everyone's lives.

"We need to be very direct about where our improvements need to happen and we also need to be transparent about what data triggers that threshold for us to go back into orange and if that’s a request we have to make through the state," she said.

Moving to tighter restrictions means some city services would close again, gatherings would be restricted and businesses would face tougher health regulations. Earlier this month, Salt Lake City moved to "yellow" on the state's COVID-19 restriction scale, joining much of the state. Provo and Orem were recently moved back to "orange" as a result of the recent surge in cases.

The Salt Lake City Council was also updated on efforts to provide rental and mortgage assistance, as well as a multi-week plan to provide more resources to people experiencing homelessness before any transient camps are shut down. Mayor Mendenhall said anyone interested in volunteering to help with providing resources can call 801-535-7712 or donate to the Volunteers of America or Shelter the Homeless.