Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week was certainly one to remember. On top of the pandemic, our nation had a close race for president, and we saw some close local races as well. One of the things I love most about serving in the Utah Senate is that we have great relationships with our colleagues, no matter the party affiliation. Everyone understands that we are all serving for the same reason, to make our state better. We live in the greatest state in the union and we get better results when we work together to solve our problems.
I’m sure that most of you have heard about Governor Herbert’s announcement and I wanted to provide more information:
Dr. Deborah Birx, with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC Executive Director, visited Utah on October 31 to share recommendations based on research. It includes K-12 and higher education return to in-person learning. Research indicates that when masks are worn in controlled environments, such as in schools, the spread of COVID-19 is happening less than when students are not at school. Learning also dramatically improves.
Dr. Birx and Dr. Robert also recommended providing rapid testing for teachers and university students. Those 15-35 years of age tend to be the super spreaders since they may be asymptomatic and not even know it as they show no symptoms. However, shutdowns were not part of their recommendations. They did emphasize the importance of wearing masks and physical distancing when with others outside of households.
Utah COVID-19 hospitalizations are high, and hospitals are saying they are near capacity. Sunday night, Gov. Herbert announced a new State of Emergency to address hospital overcrowding. In accordance with the State of Emergency, the governor and the Utah Department of Health issued concurrent executive and public health orders designed to curb the COVID-19 case surge.
Governor Herbert's executive orders enact statewide COVID-19 restrictions:
Place the entire state under a mask mandate.
Limit casual social gatherings to household-only until November 23.
Put all youth and high school extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events, on hold for the duration of the order.
Require students enrolled at public and private colleges and universities, who either live on campus or attend at least one in-person class per week, to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
It is important to note that it does not apply to faith-based organizations and businesses are still open. Our state is not in a shutdown—the limited casual social gatherings to households end before Thanksgiving. According to the CDC and research, the main focus is on testing, which will help slow the spread, so we don’t overwhelm healthcare workers and the healthcare system.
I appreciate healthcare workers and I am concerned with cases of hospitalizations. According to data, increased testing will help limit the spread. However, I do have concerns with fines on businesses or individuals. The rapid spread is typically happening when we let our guard down, which tends to occur when we are with individuals we are closest to. The government can’t solve this problem, which is why we encourage everyone to wear a mask when with others not in your household as we do at work or school to slow the spread. Data shows the virus spreads less when masks are worn. Together, we can slow the spread and avoid overwhelming our healthcare workers.
Read more about the executive orders, frequently asked questions, business signage and additional information here.
Highlights from Gov. Herbert’s weekly COVID-19 briefing:
On Thursday, the Utah Department of Health reported 2,807 new COVID-19 cases, the largest single daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Utah’s rolling 7-day percent positivity average is 19.5 percent, an increase from the previous week’s 18.1 percent.
Millard County moved from "high" to "moderate" on the state's COVID-19 transmission index. A total of 22 counties remain in the high level of transmission, two counties in the moderate and five counties in the low.
The Utah Department of Health has projected higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in the coming days and weeks. This increase is expected to continue unless behavior is modified. Gov. Herbert has held emergency meetings and intends to share additional steps to end the COVID-19 surge in Utah. Read the governor’s full statement here.
A COVID-19 vaccine is expected to start rolling out in the next 1-2 months with prioritization to those working on the front line and those in the high-risk category. General dissemination of the vaccine is expected around March 2021.
Watch the full briefing here.
The Utah Hospital Association also met with Dr. Deborah Birx, a representative from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and CDC Executive Director Dr. Robert Redfield, to discuss strategies to address the current COVID-19 surge affecting Utah and more than 40 other states. During the meeting, Doctors Birx and Redfield said they see rapid testing as one of the main tools to keep educational settings and large worksites open. They said rapid testing will soon be available in large numbers sufficient to give weekly tests to targeted groups such as teachers, university students and employees in large workspaces. Read more here.
The Utah State Prison in Draper is currently on a code-red lockdown for at least the next twenty-four hours due to a potential second COVID-19 outbreak. More information here.
The graph below shows Utah’s ICU capacity from May 1 through November 4.
State Data (as of November 10th)
Total Cases: 137,385
Total People Tested: 1,180,749
Total Hospitalizations: 6,284
Total Deaths: 672
Estimated Recovered: 85,975
Utah County Dept Health
Total Cases: 35,378
Total Tested: 244,669
Estimated Recovered: 25,692
Additional information here.
In the News:
I Look Forward to Hearing From You!
I'll try to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re also welcome to join me at the Capitol and if you’d like to meet with me in person outside of interim or the legislative session, you can reach Jason Gould at email@example.com. He’ll help us get in touch.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,
Senator Dan McCay
Utah Senate District 11