How Do State Officials Decide To Move To The 'Yellow' Coronavirus Response Phase?

May 13, 2020

Since Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state's transition to "orange," or moderate risk, according to the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan on May 1, counties in rural Utah have asked to move directly into the "yellow" risk category. However, according to the state epidemiologist Angela Dunn, it is more difficult to determine a case trend for rural counties when determining whether they can make this transition.

Rural counties have a smaller population, so there are not a lot of cases to go by. This factor makes it impossible to identify accurate trends. To help understand the possible trends in these areas, each county is looked in conjunction with its surrounding counties.  

Every county is able to make a request to transition to "yellow." This request is then sent to the Department of Health, which makes a recommendation to Herbert. Dunn said the decision to move to the "yellow" risk category is made through expert opinions of health officials. Officials look for low hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization, a decrease in case trends and the county's testing capacity to determine approval. 

According to Dunn, a statewide order to "yellow" is going to be harder to put into place because there are certain jurisdictions still seeing coronavirus cases increasing.