SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will remain at a "yellow" risk level for COVID-19.
Governor Gary Herbert decided to preserve the existing status for the virus, extending health orders for another week. FOX 13 first reported on his decision earlier Friday.
"Common sense requires keeping our current health risk guidance in place. We all want to return to more normal patterns of life as soon as possible, but we also do not want to take a step back in our progress against this disease and our reactivation of the economy. A marked increase in disease incidence and in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 give us pause. We will continue to analyze data trends with an eye toward balancing overall health risks and protecting high risk populations," Gov. Herbert said in a statement Friday afternoon.
"Utah’s Yellow phase guidance emphasizes taking common sense precautions so that we can safely resume regular social and economic pursuits. Under Yellow risk status there are no economic activities that are categorically prohibited if common sense precautions are in place."
Salt Lake City, Mexican Hat and Bluff will remain at an "orange" or moderate risk level for COVID-19. They have some of the highest cases in the state.
"In consultation with the County Health Department we've requested to keep Salt Lake City in the orange phase, where we have been since May 1, because our data is not showing a significant enough change to warrant a shift to yellow. We will continue to cooperate closely with the state and local health departments to monitor the data and evaluate our status," Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall's office said in a statement to FOX 13.
The governor urged people to continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene. He also strongly urged face masks when in public.
"I know that wearing masks looks and feels different, but it is an easy, low-cost practice that will help us return to normal. I believe that wearing masks has helped to reduce the asymptomatic spread of the virus among state officials even as we have been working long hours together in close quarters," the governor said.
A legislative commission earlier this week voted to recommend the state move to a "green" risk level. The Utah Senate President,in an interview with FOX 13, said low hospitalization rates justified the move. But the state epidemiologist said she did not recommend it, citing increasing COVID-19 cases in recent days.
The governor said it was possible that some rural communities, which have not experienced any COVID-19 cases, could move to "green" before the end of this month.