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Utah leaders to announce new plan on when the state can open back up

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Posted at 7:10 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 09:21:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials plan to announce new information today about when certain sectors of the economy could soon begin to open up.

The Utah Economic Recovery Task Force, created by Governor Gary Herbert to look after the business side of the pandemic, said it planned to release a revised version of the "Utah Leads Together" plan. It is a phased-in approach created by the governor and his advisors about dealing with the public health crisis and the economic crisis.

Details of the plan were not immediately available. Gov. Herbert is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, who oversees the governor's coronavirus response task force, confirmed plans for a new plan on Friday in a tweet reacting to White House plans to re-open some things in a phased-in approach.

"Not only did Utah lead the nation, after countless hours of work by too many incredible Utahns to mention (literally hundreds of healthcare, public safety and business leaders) version 2 of Utah’s plan will be released today. We need to stay safe, stay vigilant AND stay working," Lt. Gov. Cox wrote.

Utah has seen promising signs that it is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local leaders have extended stay-at-home directives and orders until May 1 and have been eyeing that as a date to open certain sectors of the economy. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn told reporters on Thursday that is a good goal, but she wanted to ensure data on coronavirus cases was pointing in a more positive direction first.

Unemployment continues to rise in Utah. On Friday, Utah's Department of Workforce Services reported that in March, as the pandemic was beginning, unemployment surged to 3.6% with approximately 57,900 people seeking work. The nonprofit group Voices for Utah Children released its own study claiming unemployment to current levels is closer to 9%.

The Utah State Legislature has been pushing for economic recovery measures. On Thursday night, the Utah State Senate pushed through a bill to create a commission that would look at "re-opening" Utah.