SALT LAKE CITY — Mask mandates are controversial in Colorado, but in the politically purple state, the debate can cut in either direction depending on the locale.
At Democratic Governor Jared Polis' urging, many county health districts and school districts chose to require masks at public schools, following CDC guidance. Initial impressions suggest they are not seeing the same level of surge experienced next door in Utah where only one small district, the Grand County School District, has implemented such a mandate at their only elementary school.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall also issued a health order requiring masks in Salt Lake City District Schools, but worried about backlash the district is not enforcing the order.
In Utah, cases in school age children are approaching earlier highs and exceed Colorado rates.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control for the 7 days ending on August 28:
- 5-11 year old Utahns were 24 percent more likely to test positive for Covid-19 than their counterparts in Colorado.
- 12-15 year olds in Utah were 40 percent more likely.
- 16 and 17 year olds In Utah were 35 percent more likely.
- Utahns of all ages were 75 percent more likely to test positive for Covid-19.
- While Utah's referral ICU's have reached capacity, Colorado reports 87 percent of their ICU beds in use.
Colorado also has a much higher vaccination rate than Utah right now. 57 percent of Coloradans are fully vaccinated compared with 48 percent of Utahns.
As the youngest state in the nation with a comparatively healthy population, Utah has still suffered fewer deaths as a proportion of its population than Colorado. 82 of every 100,000 Utahns have died of COVID-19 compared to 129 of every 100,000 Coloradans.
Being healthy as a population does create a problem during a pandemic: Becker's hospital review reports Utah has 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents. That’s the third lowest ratio in the nation after Washington (1.7) and Oregon (1.6). California and New Mexico tie Utah at 1.8.