Gov. Cox explains opening vaccine eligibility, lifting the mask mandate
SALT LAKE CITY– With vaccine eligibility opening up to all adult Utahns beginning next Wednesday, Governor Spencer Cox spoke with KSL NewsRadio about how the state will continue to tackle the pandemic as more residents get shots in the arm.
The decision to inoculate Utahns over the age of 16 was twofold.
First, Cox said local health departments have extra doses they insist on administering. Second, vaccine access is a big priority. Cox explained Utah’s multicultural communities need better access to the vaccine, and not all of those residents meet age or health requirements.
“One of the reasons we made this decision [to open vaccine eligibility] is so that when these mobile units [enter Utah’s minority communities] they won’t have to pick and choose. They can just vaccinate everybody,” said Cox.
Additionally, Cox said he foresees other issues arising, such as vaccine hesitancy, and leaders are trying to get ahead of the problem by increasing distribution.
“It’s not a big problem just yet, but it will be,” said Cox.
Although thousands of Utahns will be able to get the vaccine next week, Cox warns it’ll take a while to get everyone vaccinated.
Vaccine distribution: Utah v. the nation
Currently, Utah is ranked 5th in the nation for vaccine distribution. As of Thursday, Utah has administered 1,080,039 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, as vaccine shipments increase across the nation and more doses become available, Utah could move down the list.
“We can’t vaccinate kids under the age of 16,” said Cox, outline Utah’s vaccine distribution will seem lower than other states due to Utah having the youngest population in the US. And there’s a chance the age restriction could hinder herd immunity.
Cox said he doesn’t know how the inability to vaccinate Utahns younger than 16 will impact herd immunity. But, he did mention it could pose a problem considering COVID-19 does spread easily among adolescents.
Lifting the mask mandate
Utah is slated to lift the statewide mask mandate on April 10. Residents, local leaders, and health officials have raised their concerns about it being too early, but Cox said that before negotiations, the Utah Legislature was eyeing the mandate to end on March 10.
Even after the mandate is over, Cox said masks will still be required in certain instances.
“Kids will still have to wear a mask in schools, and masks will be required for mass gatherings,” said Cox.
Additionally, he said businesses will have the freedom to decided if masks are necessary or not.
“Businesses can make their own decisions. If a business asks you to wear a mask, wear a mask,” said Cox.
Last week, Cox said businesses should continue to wear masks to protect guests and employees.
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.
- Get vaccinated.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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