WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House Coronavirus Task Force has issued a report that Utah is among 18 states that have been put in a "Red Zone."
Other than Utah the report classifies Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in the red zone as well.
This report is 359 pages and is broken down state by state in order to give recommendations from the task force to the state health departments.
The whole document can be found here. Utah's specific portion starts on page 309.
It outlines several steps the state should take such as "close bars and gyms in hot spot counties” and "move to outdoor dining, limit indoor dining to less than 25 percent."
“The trend in recent days is very concerning in Utah,” the report says in summary.
Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked about this week's report in Washington, D.C.
“The White House is not afraid of information. I think we see the surge in cases and we know where the hot spots are. We've been very upfront about that," she said.
From one Capitol Hill to another, local government agencies are also responding to Utah's “Red Zone” classification.
Gov. Gary Herbert's office commented on the report:
“The White House sends us regular reports on Utah’s COVID-19 status, including data and recommendations. The data seems to correspond well with our own data, and we appreciate their suggestions. Those recommendations generally track well with the actions the our state and local health departments are already pursuing, though of course our actions are more targeted on the specific circumstances of our outbreaks.”
The Utah Department of Health also issued a statement:
"The White House Coronavirus Task Force has published weekly state-specific snapshots for several weeks now. The report provides a concise look at the current situation in Utah. We share these reports with our partners throughout the state, and they are just one of the many considerations we take into account when determining how the state can limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Both also said their response looks at wider factors than just the report from the White House, but it is a good tool in the arsenal to the state's response.
While the White House report does suggest stricter guidelines on restaurants, bars and gyms, local proprietors are worried about being closed down — again, for some.
“It's definitely disheartening,” said Sean Miller, owner of The Park Cafe in Salt Lake City. “Being a business owner and having employees that depend on this, it’s definitely a tough pill to swallow for a lot of us if it does come to that.”
Miller is worried for both himself and his friends in these industries.
“The people that own gyms and bars are really going to have to save through this little bit of a period while they’re open,” he said.
While it is ultimately about the safety of the people of Utah, businesses that have already weathered one shutdown would be impacted even further if they were forced to close for a second time — and it potentially could lead to some closing for good.
“The fact of the matter is: If people are getting sick, we have to do what the State says,” Miller said. “Mostly, I feel like we’re all trying to do our best to stay safe.”