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Cox says he’s not pushing mask mandates for Utah schools

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said the guidelines about mask requirements in Utah schools will be shared with the public as soon as Friday.

The discussion of masks in schools resurfaced when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended all students and teachers, regardless of vaccine status, wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. 

Cox spoke with Inside Sources before he took the stage at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Salt Lake but said the recommendations from the Utah Department of Health and the Utah state school board will likely be released Friday.

Gov wants lawmakers to supply schools with N95 mask for each kid

Cox said he was going to push the Legislature to supply every school-aged child at no cost with a N95 mask, which offers more protection against airborne particles than surgical masks or cloth-face covering.

“I haven’t talked to the Legislature about that yet, but I feel confident that we can get their support and get those supplies out and make them available,” the governor said.

Listen to the full conversation below.

Mandates not needed, Cox says

Cox added that he thinks it’s unlikely the Utah will end up mandating masks for young children in schools.

“I’m not pushing for one. Again, I think with what we know about the virus and what we know about its impact. We’ve only had one death, aged zero to 11 in the state — one too many. But that’s good news. And so I think our response has to be proportional. . . . I don’t believe the mandates, under the circumstances and with what we know right now, are necessary,” Cox said.

Children under 12 are still ineligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S.

“That’s the issue we’re dealing with right now,” Cox said. “There’s a report today that Pfizer said that potentially as early as late September that they could have FDA approval for that. So we’re hopeful for that.”

Data from state health officials 

Case counts show COVID-19 continues to tick upward in Utah, with more than 1,100 reported Thursday. The state had not seen daily case counts over 1,000 since February. 

While children appear to mostly avoid serious illness requiring hospitalization or death from COVID-19, they do still get sick, and rarely, that can mean hospitalization or death.

chart of covid case rates by age

Source: Utah Department of Health via https://coronavirus.utah.gov

Currently, about 11% of COVID-19 cases in Utah occurred in children between the ages of 1 and 14. That data can be found on the state’s Coronavirus website. The case rate per 100,000 population is lower among children in that age group than it is for adults. Right now, adults 25-44 represent the highest per 100,000 population case rate as well as the largest demographic, with 36% of COVID cases in the state. 

Listen to Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson every weekday from 1 to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio.

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