Utah: Slow the COVID-19 Spread with Mandatory Masks

Utah: Slow the COVID-19 Spread with Mandatory Masks

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Governor Gary Herbert said on May 14, "I like the numbers. I like what's taking place. It gives me hope and optimism for the future." (from May 14 ABC4 news item) On that date, there were 163 new cases. Just two weeks later, on May 27, we hit a new record high of 236 new cases, which would prove to be the beginning of surging new case records - Utah is currently averaging ~350 new cases per day, based on 7 day averages.

As of June 18, Utah currently has the 6th highest Rt in the nation - meaning we are transmitting cases faster than all but 6 states in the United States, and we have sustained an Rt > 1 for over six weeks. 

What we want: That Utah government will issue a mandatory face mask order for everyone who leaves their home during the pandemic to wear a homemade or commercially available cloth face covering over their nose and mouth.

Specifically, to adopt language similar to the June 18 California mask order

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
    • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
    • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
    • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
    • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

Why? Fox News, on May 15, published an article entitled "Coronavirus infections would plunge if 80 percent of people wore masks, study says." The article cautioned, "Masking at only 50 [percent] adoption is not sufficient to prevent continued spread," the researchers added. Replacing the strict lockdown with social distancing on May 31 without masking results in unchecked spread." That is, our half-masked approach is ineffective and our recent surge indicates exactly that.

Why does it work? In a study published June 11, 2020, researchers state:
Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the pandemic trends in the three epicenters. This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9. Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing implemented in the United States, are insufficient by themselves in protecting the public. We conclude that wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work also highlights the fact that sound science is essential in decision-making for the current and future public health pandemics.

Remember: The virus spreads from person-to-person in respiratory droplets.

What about mask shortages?

We already have the A Mask for Every Utahn initiative! The following is copied directly from the website (https://coronavirus.utah.gov/mask/) which implores Utahns to wear masks in public places.

Please, when you’re in public places, wear a mask. Doing so will help protect you and others as we work to keep Utah healthy and safe.
“A Mask for Every Utahn” is a state of Utah initiative, in partnership with the Utah Manufacturers Association, to help Utahns who may not have a face mask and are returning to the workplace or going out in public.

The mask initiative is for all Utahns. We would particularly welcome orders from those who:

  1. Don't already have a face mask,
  2. Aren't able to make a face mask or get one from someone else, and
  3. Aren't able to purchase a face mask.

The state will provide one mask to each resident who needs one, and will mail — upon request, once, and free of charge — up to six masks to each Utah mailing address.

Version en español será disponible pronto.

Agradacimiento a Luis Perez Cadena - usamos la estructura efectiva de su petición, en particular, la sección "En Pocas Palabras".

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