Statewide Public Health Emergency

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Utah has made strides in our fight against COVID-19. Our state has the lowest case fatality rate and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We are working to enable Utahns to protect their health and provide for their families.

After seven months of dealing with COVID-19, it was time to evaluate what was working and what wasn’t working in our state. In response to this evaluation, the Utah Department of Health released the transmission index, replacing the color-coded guidance system. The index is a simplified approach that uses data points and actions based on metrics. The three main criterion for determining each county’s transmission level are:

7-day average percent of positive tests by county

This metric shows the average percent of positive COVID-19 results over a seven-day period. When the percent positivity is above 10, it indicates that not enough testing is being conducted. If the number is below five, it means most COVID-19 positive individuals are being captured.

14-day case rate per 100,000 people by county

This metric summarizes new cases reported over the past 14 days per 100,000 people to help inform how quickly the virus is spreading in a given population. It is also referred to as an “incidence rate.”

Statewide ICU Utilization

This metric is an indication of space available within intensive care units throughout the state. Statewide data is collected instead of local data because some localities do not have ICUs or have limited capacity. Statewide numbers provide a more reliable snapshot of ICU availability.

Each county will be automatically categorized as a high, moderate or low transmission area based on the key data points. Counties may change from a lower level to a higher level weekly, but changes from a higher level to a lower level will occur at a minimum of two weeks, depending on data. A county must meet two of the three metrics to transition from phase to phase.

The smaller sample may result in large swings in the measures, which may not represent the actual situation. In counties with low case volume with less than or equal to 20 cases over the last 14 days, the recommendation will be listed as "review," and local county health officials will determine the index level following the review.

Data will be reviewed weekly to determine if there are any changes. The website will be updated each Thursday with the new metric counts.

Here are the transmission index metrics for each of the phases:

Under the new transmission index, individuals and businesses will need to follow specific guidelines for each level of transmission.

Read more about COVID-19 Transmission Index here.

Casual social gatherings

Casual social gatherings include events such as family dinner, get-togethers, book club, etc. It does not include formal religious services or events with organizational oversight. All other gatherings are limited to the following sizes:

  • High Transmission Areas: 10 or fewer.

  • Moderate Transmission Areas:

  • 10 or fewer until October 29.

  • 25 or fewer after October 29, the size may exceed 25 if individuals wear a mask.

  • Low Transmission Areas: 50 or fewer, unless masks are worn.


  • High Transmission Areas: Required.

  • Moderate Transmission Areas: Required by public health directive.

  • Low Transmission Areas: Strongly recommended. At this level, a mask requirement is at the discretion of county executives in consultation with the local health officer.

  • Masks are required, excluding performers, at any establishment that allows public gatherings, such as live events, movie theaters, sporting events, weddings, recreation and entertainment. Read more here.

  • Mask requirements already in place will remain, including county mask requirements, in K-12 schools and state-owned buildings.


  • Require 6 feet of distance between household groups, unless masks are worn.

  • Post signage listing COVID-19 symptoms, asking employees and customers with symptoms to stay home and encourage physical distancing.

  • Offer alternative pickup options when possible, such as curbside pickups, delivery and takeout.

  • Install plexiglass barriers between staff and customers when 6 feet of distancing is difficult.

  • Clean and disinfect restrooms at least twice daily.

  • Taking the Stay Safe to Stay Open Pledge is strongly encouraged.

  • View all the guidelines for restaurants, live events, recreation and entertainment here and read the COVID-19 business manual here.

Transmission Areas

The image below shows each county in its current level of transmission.

The full details of the COVID-19 Transmission Index, frequently asked questions, information regarding businesses and schools and more are online at

State of Emergency/Statewide Public Health Emergency

The governor announced that Utah would move out of a State of Emergency and into a Public Health Emergency declared by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). On October 14, the UDOH issued a state public health order declaring a statewide public health emergency that shall remain in effect until otherwise modified, amended, rescinded or superseded. Read more here.

Public Health Order

On October 14, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) issued a public health order requiring masks in high transmission areas and strongly recommends individuals wear a mask in moderate transmission areas.

In conjunction with the state public health order, UDOH also issued a directive that individuals in moderate transmission areas are directed to wear a mask in public indoor and outdoor settings when physical distancing is not feasible. It also limits casual social gatherings to 10 or fewer individuals. It is in effect until October 29. The intent is to help change the state's current COVID-19 hospitalization trajectory. Read more here.

Additional COVID-19 updates

State Data (as of October 20th)

Total Cases: 96,643

Total People Tested: 986,424

Total Hospitalizations: 4,753

Total Deaths: 551

Estimated Recovered: 96,643

Utah County Dept Health

Total Cases: 25,772

Total Tested: 205,551

Hospitalizations: 875

Deaths: 74

Estimated Recovered: 19,086

The graph below shows Utah’s ICU capacity from May 1 through October 13.

Frequently asked questions and answers about the new guidelines can be found here.

In the News:

WHO study finds remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients

Some Utahns turn to 'gig economy' to pay bills during COVID-19 pandemic

Pfizer: Mid-November earliest it can seek virus vaccine OK

Hill AFB selected for random COVID-19 testing program

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 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 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

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