Salt Lake County Board of Health supports mask mandate if necessary

Aug 5, 2021, 8:30 AM | Updated: Aug 9, 2021, 5:46 pm
dr angela dunn going to salt lake county...
FILE: State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn is photographed in her office at the Utah Department of Health in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the letter would go to the Salt Lake City Council. It will instead be sent to the Salt Lake County Council, potentially affecting all school districts located within Salt Lake County.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County’s Board of Health plans to send a letter to the Salt Lake County mayor and county council in support of a mask mandate in public schools this fall, should the county health department’s top doctor determine one becomes necessary. 

However, Dr. Angela Dunn, Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, indicated earlier this week she did not plan to ask for one. 

Tune to KSL NewsRadio for the latest on this developing story, or join the livestream below. 

Dr. Dunn: Masks protect unvaccinated kids

In the board of health meeting Thursday morning, Dunn said ample scientific evidence proves wearing masks at school protects kids who do not yet have protection from a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Salt Lake County Board of Health drafted a letter to send to the Salt Lake County mayor and council. The letter says the board supports the recommendation of a mask requirement in area public schools. The vote to sign and send the letter was unanimous. 

Despite earlier public meetings this week drawing large amounts of anti-mask mandate speakers, that did not happen with the Salt Lake County Board of Health meeting. During the public comment phase of the discussion, only one caller opposed a mask mandate in local schools; all other speakers supported the move. 

“Masks are largely ineffective, especially in ages of kids who are the least likely to wear them properly,” said Jeremiah Olson.  He also stated children are less affected by the virus.

But Holly Uphold said the information she’s received is that delta variant is much more harmful in kids.  She wants the board to push whomever has the ultimate decision on wearing face masks to require  them.

Salt Lake County mask mandate still up in the air

No mask mandate takes effect immediately; under state law, a mandate can only take effect after a recommendation from the local health department with approval from local elected officials. Therefore, Salt Lake County council members would need to approve a mask mandate for schools. 

If that happens, it would apply to all school districts within Salt Lake County, including Canyons, Granite, Jordan, Murray and Salt Lake City. 

Earlier this week, Dunn said she did not plan to ask for a mandate, knowing that the Salt Lake County Council, at that time, opposed one. 

This story will be updated. 

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