SALT LAKE CITY — When do pandemics end? That’s the question that Utah lawmakers are asking as they’re working on a checklist of metrics to lay out what the “endgame” for the COVID-19 pandemic will look like.
“What we’re looking towards is the endgame,” said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield. “How do we get out of the pandemic? How do we declare these things are over?”
Ray’s HB294 passed out of the House’ Government Operations Committee by a 7-3 vote on Monday, despite concerns from health officials and the Utah Department of Health.
When do pandemics end?
The Pandemic Emergency Powers Amendments bill would be set-up a path for lawmakers to end the use of emergency powers and certain public health orders related to COVID, once the state hits certain thresholds for positivity rates, vaccinations, and other criteria.
Some of those criteria include a 14-day case rate of less than 101 per 100,000 people, or under 2,900 cases a day. As of Monday, Utah’s 14-day case rate was around 654, Ray said, “so we’re well under the 2,900.”
Another criteria lawmakers are considering is that hospitals be at or below 15% COVID-19 utilization of intensive care unit hospital beds. “As of today we’re at like 13%,” Ray said.
Lastly, the bill would require at least 1.5 million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be allocated to the state. As of Monday, “we’re close to 900,000 at this point,” Ray said. “Once we reach those parameters then restrictions are gone,” he said.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration – there is also a similar bill making its way through the Senate.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is 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.
- Wear a mask.
- Don’t touch your face.
- 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.)
- Get a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707