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Utah family concerned about lack of mask mandates after kindergartener catches COVID-19

Posted at 10:31 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 01:19:56-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY — A local family believes a lack of a mask mandate in Utah schools played a role in their 5-year-old son contracting COVID-19.

The boy, who also battles asthma, began kindergarten two weeks ago.

A few days later, he started experiencing a fever and cough.

Friday, he tested positive for the virus.

“This year was a big struggle for us whether or not we were to put him in school,” said Logan Clifford, the boy’s father. “He came back the first day and said there were only five other kids with masks. That definitely made us nervous.”

READ: Cox considered issuing executive order to allow for school mask requirement

After his son tested positive, Logan wrote a letter to Salt Lake County Councilwoman Laurie Stringham.

The letter, published in the opinion section of the Salt Lake Tribune, accuses the council member of using “blind ignorance” in making her decision to vote against a mask mandate in county schools.

“She said she would not vote for a mandate until numbers were, quote, ‘catastrophic,’” Clifford said. “I don’t know if that means they are waiting for children to die of the virus. Or are they waiting to see kids have long term effects?”

READ: Restraining order sought in K-12 mask lawsuit

Clifford knows other families are experiencing positive COVID cases with their children who are still too young to be vaccinated. He expects more will go through this as the school year progresses.

According to the Utah Department of Health dashboard, the current seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in kids aged 5-10 is 37.8 per day.

A year ago on this date, with a statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools in place, that number was 4.2.

READ: Education Department opens investigation over Utah's mask restrictions

“People have got to see eye to eye on this virus or it will never go away,” Clifford said via Zoom while his son could be heard coughing in the background.

The family is fearful their toddler who is also experiencing symptoms has the virus. At the time of this article's publishing, they were waiting for test results.

A representative for Councilwoman Stringham declined to respond to Clifford’s letter and described it as politically motivated.