Masks are required in public for Salt Lake, Summit counties, says Herbert; Utah COVID-19 cases jump 590

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Early Thursday morning, Governor Gary Herbert’s office confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune that the governor approved requests from Salt Lake and Summit counties to make face coatings mandatory in public.

Summit County on Thursday afternoon requested Herbert’s authorization to implement a mask mandate, similar to Salt Lake County’s request on Wednesday.

“This is an important time in an effort to keep our community safe,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson told The Tribune by phone Thursday night. “A few days ago, it seemed like we really didn’t have a choice. This is a health crisis, and while some people may feel it is overreaching, it is not. “

A Salt Lake County spokeswoman previously said the state would announce its decisions on those requests on Friday.

Herbert’s decision on facial coatings Thursday came hours after the state announced another 590 new cases of the coronavirus, the second-largest increase in a single day since the pandemic began.

And 34 more Utah residents were reported to be hospitalized, a daily increase achieved only once before. Coronavirus patients filled 170 hospital beds as of Thursday, also a tie for the largest hospital occupation to date.

Another Utahn died from COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health reported Thursday: a Salt Lake County man aged 45 to 64, who was not hospitalized when he died. There have been 164 deaths in Utah due to the coronavirus.

Salt Lake County posted its second-largest increase in a single day on Thursday, with 303 new cases. The Weber-Morgan and Southwest Utah and Davis County Health Departments posted their biggest increases through Thursday.

To achieve that goal, the state would have to average fewer than 150 new cases over the next six days, a feat that was not accomplished in about a month. Since May 28, more than 200 new cases have been reported each day, and Saturday brought the largest increase in a single day: 643 new cases.

Thursday’s increase came from 7,316 test results reported between Wednesday and Thursday, UDOH reported.

“This number is likely to be artificially high due to several days of negative results being reported today,” health officials wrote in a press release. In total, 312,054 Utahns have been evaluated since the start of the pandemic.

A program to provide free COVID-19 tests to the west side of Salt Lake County will return in July, after an avalanche of people seeking evidence outweighed this week’s effort.

The Salt Lake County Health Department had scheduled free testing sessions in the Glendale and Rose Park neighborhoods this week, but had to cancel several events to replenish supplies for test kits, said Nicholas Rupp, a department spokesman.

Trial events will be rescheduled shortly after the July 4 holiday, Rupp said. The department will work through community partners to ensure that people in those neighborhoods have the first opportunity to be tested. The department will work with grassroots groups, through emails, text messages, calls, flyers, and private social media groups, to inform people of the events.

The health department expected between 100 and 150 people to test for COVID-19 at each weekday event, and had assigned as many test kits. But at a test event Monday in Glendale, 444 people showed up to get tested.

Only 24 percent of those 444 people came from west county zip codes. The rest came from other parts of the state, and even as far away as Nevada and Wyoming.

Of the 19,374 Utahns who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 1,290 have been hospitalized and 10,642 are considered “recovered,” that is, they have survived for three weeks after diagnosis.

Tribune journalists Sean P. Means and Josh Newman contributed to this story.