SALT LAKE CITY — Under public records requests, FOX 13 has been reviewing spending by the state using "emergency procurement" powers. That means they purchase things without the traditional public bid process.
So far, the state has spent more than $108 million to respond to COVID-19. Some of the spending has prompted scrutiny by House Democrats on Utah's Capitol Hill, who have filed bills calling for greater transparency in purchases using taxpayer dollars.
Individual state agencies were also authorized to make whatever purchases necessary to keep employees and the public safe. So far, millions have been spent on hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes, etc.
But one purchase stood out. Utah's Department of Natural Resources spent $61.35 on "pool noodles." In fulfilling FOX 13's public records request, Utah's Division of Purchasing offered an explanation for why it falls under a pandemic response expense.
The pool noodles were apparently cut up to use on golf courses to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. It's a creative and crafty solution to a tricky issue. By filling the hole on the putting green, it blocks people from reaching into what could be a tough-to-clean area to retrieve a golf ball and helps stop the transmission of the virus. The agency included a photo of the purchase in action: