Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert announced on Tuesday that due to pre-existing health concerns, Dr. Joe Minor, the executive director of the Utah Department of Health, would not be able to take care of the day-to-day responsibilities of the department during the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, Former Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton who recently retired from the Utah National Guard will take on these responsibilities, although Minor will remain in his position as director.
“General Burton has a significant background not only in the military, but in disaster planning and response,” Herbert said during a press conference. “So his abilities and training will make him ideal to come in and help us ramp us this surge effort.”
Herbert said Burton will be part of the state’s unified command and that emergency operation center at the state’s capitol, which was used during the earthquake two weeks ago, will also be used for planning and monitoring response efforts related to COVID-19.
Herbert also said the state’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic has gone to level one, which means all agencies are on board and briefings are being held daily.
The Commissioner of Public Safety, Jess Anderson, also said during the press conference that later on Tuesday the state would be delivering their declaration of a major disaster to President Donald Trump. Anderson said this will allow the state to access more federal resources, both strategic and financial.