Story at a glance
- Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency as he issued a facial mask mandate on Sunday.
- The state saw a record high daily case count on Nov. 5.
Amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has issued a statewide mask mandate as well as a state of emergency, with cases topping 132,621 since the start of the pandemic as of Nov. 8.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Herbert and the Utah Department of Health are requiring residents to wear face coverings in public, and to maintain a distance of 6 feet from people outside of their households.
Only two of the state’s counties are reporting a low volume of new cases, while every other county is exhibiting anywhere from a moderately high to very high rate of transmission. Several large counties had already implemented mandatory mask rules, but the statewide order will go into effect until Nov. 23, with the potential to be renewed “for the foreseeable future.”
Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber-Morgan Counties are leading the state in case rates per 100,000 people.
Utah saw a record-high of newly reported cases last week on Nov. 5, with 2,980 COVID-19 infections reported in a single day. The recent daily infections have surpassed rates seen during the spring and summer outbreaks that occurred around June and July.
Seven-day rolling averages have also peaked, climbing to a staggering 20.56 percent testing positivity rate as of Nov. 2.
“To make a real difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and turning around the dire situation in our hospitals, we all need to do more,” Herbert said in a statement. “This is a sacrifice for all of us. But as we slow the spread it will make all the difference for our overworked healthcare workers, who desperately need our help.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the effectiveness of wearing face masks as a means to prevent infection have been studied and touted by public health experts.
A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed changes in Arizona’s daily case count following the implementation of a mask mandate in select places.
Cases eventually fell by 75 percent within several weeks following mask and social distancing enforcement.
“Widespread implementation and enforcement of sustained community mitigation measures informed by state and local officials’ continual data monitoring and collaboration can help prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and decrease the numbers of COVID-19 cases,” the report read.
Utah is one of the states leading the country in new coronavirus cases, which hit 10 million nationally on Monday. Nearby states, including North and South Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming are also seeing severe upticks in new cases.