Salt Lake County issues indoor mask order, effective midnight Friday
SALT LAKE CITY — On Friday, the Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Angela Dunn issued a public health order requiring all people in Salt Lake County to wear masks indoors and outdoors when gathering in groups. This mandate includes schools, so every student will be asked to mask up on Monday morning.
This order applies regardless of people’s vaccination status.
“We desperately need to use every tool available to ensure our hospitals can continue providing excellent healthcare through this surge,” Dr. Dunn said.
“We also need to ensure that our essential services have the staff necessary to operate—from law enforcement, to plow drivers, to schoolteachers. It is my obligation as health officer to take the action I believe has the best chance to prevent unnecessary suffering throughout our community.”
Dunn said the high number of essential workers calling in sick, along with the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases across the county convinced her to issue the new mandate. Over 4,000 positive cases in Salt Lake County were reported on Friday.
“We’re at the point, again, where we’re calling on the entire community to wear a mask to prevent possibly infecting those who are more vulnerable to severe disease,” according to Dunn.
The Salt Lake County Council can vote to overturn the mandate, but Dunn said she doesn’t need their approval to issue it. She hopes the mandate won’t be needed after 30 days.
Dunn said, “What we have seen and learned from the states to the east of us is that the Omicron surge tends to be about four to six weeks.”
Dr. Dunn recommends wearing KN95 masks instead of cloth masks if possible. She said the county is going to step up their efforts to give everyone better access to these kinds of masks.
“We will be distributing them through our community based organizations, but also our libraries and our schools to ensure that everybody has access to the best protection possible,” Dunn said.
There are exemptions to the public health order, and they are as follows:
- Individuals under two years of age and those with medical conditions, impairments or disabilities that prevent wearing a mask.
- Individuals engaging in work where they are alone and individuals for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the individual related to their work as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- Individuals seated at a restaurant or other food/beverage establishment while they are actively eating or drinking.
The order is in response to the record-breaking surge of the omicron variant. It takes place at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, January 8th and will be in place through Monday, February 7, 2022.
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