SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is renewing and making a few tweaks to its statewide public health order in effect to help limit the community spread of COVID-19. The order is an extension of the one that expired Monday and remains in effect until March 25, 2021.
Changes to the public health order
There are few small updates to the current health order:
A statewide mask mandate is still in effect when in public spaces or when physical distancing is not possible. However, UDOH says eight weeks after Utah receives 1,633,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, counties with “low” transmission levels can eliminate the requirement to wear masks.
Testing in schools
The public health order outlines two changes regarding COVID-19 testing for high school extracurriculars and K-12 in general.
For high school activities, students must receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending a one-time school-sponsored extracurricular activity, like a dance.
Local school districts are encouraged to work with the local health department to determine the best course of action if a COVID-19 outbreak were to occur.
If schools implement the “Test to Stay” option, students who test positive are required to learn remotely ten days from the date of their test. Additionally, UDOH advises students who decide not to be tested to transition to remote learning for ten days if “less than 60% of the school population participated in the testing event OR if the percent positivity from the testing event is 2.5% or higher.”
In counties with “moderate” transmission, Utah bars will no longer be limited to 75% capacity. Bars will still be required to ensure patrons are wearing a mask and keep six feet away from others.
UDOH will begin using the “test over test” percent positivity metric to determine the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 transmission levels.
The reason is “because the “test over test” percent positivity skews lower than the previous “people over people” the range for percent positivity in the Transmission Index will shift lower,” explained UDOH.
UDOH considers counties with a seven-day rolling average of positive tests greater than 10% areas of “high transmission.” Counties with a percent positivity between 5.1%-9.9% fall under “moderate transmission.” And counties with a percent positivity of 5% or less are in the “low” transmission category.
For more information on the transmission index, visit here.
Once a county reaches the “moderate” transmission level, large public gatherings such as live events, movie theaters, sporting events, weddings, recreation, and entertainment will be able to occur, but with some regulations.
UDOH’s new public health order allows for side-by-side seating; however, all guests must wear a mask and attest to not having any COVID-19 symptoms. Guests may remove masks when eating or drinking, but the order requires physical distancing at all times when not with someone from the same party.
Additionally, if an outbreak happens at the event, the host must be able to contact any attendee who was a close contact of the positive cases.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
- Obtain a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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