One of the first questions candidate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) and Chris Peterson (D) answered during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate was whether they would issue a statewide mask mandate right now if they had the power to do so.
Peterson said he’s been calling for a mandate since July.
“We've got to do more to get this virus under control because it's critical for saving lives," he said. "And look, I hate wearing masks. I don't like my mask. It fogs up my glasses. I don't enjoy it either. But there are a lot of things that we do in a civilized society to take care of one another.”
In contrast, Cox said he supports the decision to leave the issue of mandates up to the individual communities.
“We have been pushing for masks," he said. "I have been pushing for masks for months. If you care about your neighbors, you should wear a mask. Everyone should wear a mask. If you have to have a law to mandate you to wear a mask, you're probably not going to do it anyway.“
The candidates also discussed how the state’s coronavirus task force was handling virus response in Utah. Peterson has called for Cox’s removal from the task force and says decisions should be made based on the guidance of public health experts.
“It's about saving people's lives," Peterson said. "People's jobs are on the line, small businesses are collapsing. It was clear to me that our Coronavirus response was careening off track and in fact, it did careen off track. We are now the fourth-worst in the country for Coronavirus, infections.”
In response, Cox said he has been communicating with leaders across the country about coronavirus response.
“This is a pandemic, unlike anything we've seen in over 100 years," Cox said. "We brought together, and are still working, over 250 individuals every day, the best and brightest in the state; medical professionals, emergency response team that is coming together and making recommendations to the governor who then makes those decisions.”
Both candidates agree that Utahns need to come together to fight this pandemic.