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State Senator says COVID-19 shows state should keep employees home during inversions

Posted at 9:08 PM, May 14, 2020

It's very meaningful that we take every tragedy that happens and try to figure out ask what can we learn from it.

State senator Dan McCay hopes our reaction to a virus may help us solve another problem that also makes us sick…the particulate pollution that gathers in Utah’s northern valleys during winter inversions.

“It's very meaningful that we take every tragedy that happens and try to figure out ask what can we learn from it,” McCay said.

The State Senator, a Republican from Riverton, says he hopes the positive lesson in the case of COVID-19 is that many of Utah’s commuters can work from home when necessary. He intends to introduce a bill in the next legislative session classifying state employees as “worksite essential” and “worksite optional.” The bill would then set guidelines for when air quality concerns are high enough to ask the latter group to work from home.

“This is an opportunity for us to get out of our own way for making an improvement in our air quality,” McCay said.

Thom Carter, the executive director for the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR), is excited that McCay wants the state to lead on the issue of telecommuting for clean air.

“If we're going to remove those tailpipe emissions during a pollution event that could be something significant,” Carter said.

Carter said UCAIR is working with the state on a study of worker experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.