SALT LAKE CITY — With the state's new COVID-19 restrictions and mandates fully in effect, Governor Gary Herbert said he was hopeful Utahns would adopt it.
"This is really a call to action for all of us," he said in brief remarks to FOX 13 on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Hospitals continue to report filling up. The 16 hospitals best equipped to handle COVID-19 patients reported being at nearly 82% capacity. Meanwhile, the Salt Lake County Council was told on Tuesday that testing centers are also filling up with people seeking a test.
Council member Aimee Winder Newton said she was seeking a test after being around someone who later tested positive.
"I’ve been trying to find a test and it’s hard," she said during Tuesday's public meeting. "The IHC site, the testing windows are booked up and Walgreens, they’re out a few days. I’m curious if we’re having a problem getting people in if they need a test?" she asked Salt Lake County Health Department Director Gary Edwareds.
"That is something that is being experienced by many," he replied.
Edwards said testing centers are reporting full bookings for appointment windows.
"For months, we kept saying there’s plenty of resources out there. There’s plenty of kits, it’s the human resources," he told the council.
The biggest driver of Utah's COVID-19 surge continues to be young adults who are contracting the virus in "social gatherings" and then spreading it to others, the Salt Lake County Health Department reported. That is one of the reasons Gov. Herbert imposed limits on gatherings to only those within your household.
Council member Shireen Ghorbani noted that many bars and restaurants are frustrated about not being allowed to serve alcohol past 10 p.m. Edwards told her the state's new restrictions were designed to limit social gatherings.
"I’ve been asked many times over the past 48 hours, 'Why aren’t we just closing restaurants?' If we do that, it’s not going to stop individuals from getting together socially. They'll go to each other's homes," he said. "So the message just needs to be: when you’re outside your household group, wherever you are, even if it’s in your home and you have others from a household group, we need to maintain that 6-foot distance and wear a face covering."
Among the new restrictions is a statewide mask mandate. A study was to be presented to the Salt Lake County Council of face covering adoption rates in Utah's most populous county. It was pulled from the agenda in light of the governor's mandate. FOX 13 obtained it anyway under a public records request.
The study, conducted from Oct. 22-26 in Salt Lake County, found that of the 1,388 people observed in public spaces, 94% wore a mask and wore it properly. The study data found 6% wore it incorrectly and 4% did not wear a mask at all. Convenience stores had the most non-compliant customers, with 14% not wearing a mask. Of those not wearing a mask, men made up the majority.
Statewide, data provided by Utah's Department of Health showed rural Utahns were the least compliant. Based on telephone surveys from June to present, Millard County had the least compliant residents (at 26%) while Salt Lake County had the most compliance (at 79%). A number of counties did not have enough responses to be adequately included in the state's survey metrics.
See the mask compliance numbers here: