Elementary school study puts Utah governor mask stance comments in dispute

Sep 3, 2021, 7:41 AM

Photo of two 'mask required' signs...

'Masks required' sign inside an airport (File photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

(File photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — A study of Utah elementary schools puts comments made by the governor earlier this week in doubt when it comes to whether wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Utah governor on “the mask thing” 

The governor, in a news update in which he said he planned to wear a mask in crowded places such as church, described “the mask thing” as blown “out of proportion.” 

“Let me just say this: Masks are not as effective as most of the pro-mask crowd are arguing,” Cox said. “We know that. They’re just not. They are a tool, and they do have some impact.” 

An infectious disease expert at Intermountain Healthcare called on the Utah governor to correct his mask stance in a tweet. Dr. Andrew Pavia called the statement from Gov. Spencer Cox “factually incorrect,” “wrong,” and “an affront to health care and public health workers.” 

So are masks overblown, or is the governor “factually wrong?” 

Fact-checking the argument

In an interview with KSL NewsRadio, Nicholas Rupp with the Salt Lake County Health Department said the evidence shows mask wearing helps in Utah. In fact, he said, a study conducted in Salt Lake County supports the evidence for mask efficacy. 

“Best thing we can do, if you are not vaccinated, particularly if you are too young to be vaccinated, is to wear a mask,” Rupp said. “The CDC collaborated with the Salt Lake County Health Department, and we did a study of 20 Salt Lake County elementary schools during last year’s winter surge, and we found very little spread of COVID in classrooms with high mask wearing, even though those classrooms weren’t able to socially distance the students. In fact, out of 728 documented exposures in those classrooms, only 5 students were actually infected. And that’s 0.7%.” 

Rupp said health officials believe students should stay in the classroom, learning in-person, as much as possible. Masks, he said, allow that to happen.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News


Michelle Lee

The hidden dangers of too much sugar

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Health Educator Troy Duell to learn about the hidden dangers of sugar.

5 hours ago


Alex Cabrero

South Jordan residents react to thousands of tumbleweeds in front of their homes

As heavy winds blew through a Daybreak neighborhood in South Jordan, avoiding tumbleweeds kind of became a sport.

15 hours ago

Salt Lake City International Airport is also being impacted by the winterstorm moving through Utah....

Mark Jones

Delays, cancelations reported at Salt Lake City International Airport

As of 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, airport officials said 146 flights had been delayed, which is 39% of the departing flights.

16 hours ago

Crews working on a power pole that was damaged when heavy winds blew through the area near Shivwits...

Derrick Jones

Power restored to thousands, work continues, after winter slams Utah

Rocky Mountain Power attributed the outages to power lines downed or damaged by the wind and snow.

20 hours ago

Dusk on the last day of the 2024 legislative session at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Frida...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko

The Utah 2024 Legislative Session is over. Here’s what lawmakers did

Utah lawmakers made the most out of the 2024 general legislative session, passing 591 bills, surpassing last year's previous high of 575.

23 hours ago

Tumbleweeds surround an Eagle Mountain home on March 2, 2024. (Photo credit: Brennen Katsos)...

Josh Ellis

High winds hit Wasatch Front as storm moves in

Winds will continue to increase over western Utah valleys Saturday ahead of a front and spread into southern Utah.

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Elementary school study puts Utah governor mask stance comments in dispute