In his monthly news conference, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox addressed a variety of issues, including the ongoing drought facing the state and the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
“This week, we are reporting that 98% of Utah is either in extreme or exceptional drought and that number continues to climb," Cox said. "Those are of course the two highest drought levels. Our reservoirs now are at about on average 58% of normal down from 59%”.
Cox reminded Utahns that runoff ended last week, so all water the state is now using is part of emergency storage. There is some rain on the forecast but it will not come close to reducing drought conditions so the governor recommends that residents:
“Only water your landscaping twice per week in Northern Utah and three times per week in Southern Utah. Remember to prioritize your trees over your lawns. We want to keep those trees alive and only water in the early morning or evening.”
Gov. Cox did congratulate Utahns for the significant decrease in wildfires following the Fourth of July holiday weekend but reminded us that with dry conditions this summer, wildfire risk is high and that 561 wildfires have been recorded in Utah already this year.
“The week of July 4th we saw fewer wildfires, almost half as many compared to the same time last year," he said.
Cox encouraged Utahns to continue to recreate safely and forgo the use of personal fireworks for upcoming Pioneer Day celebrations. He reminded residents that fire risk is highest from July to September, so it is important to continue the fire safe behaviors that many have implemented this summer.
The governor went on to address current rises in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Vaccination rates are going up, after a significant drop off last month, and the governor urged all Utahns to get vaccinated.
“The 90 to 95% 96% breakthrough cases, and hospitalizations and fatalities are all amongst unvaccinated people," Cox said. "I promise you the disease is worse than the vaccine. And we desperately need you to get to get vaccinated”