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Utah Officials Plan To Transition To 'Orange' Risk Level On Friday

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Utah will be transitioning from “red,” or the high-risk category in terms of the coronavirus pandemic, to “orange,” or moderate risk, on Friday. 

In the Tuesday press conference, he said the transition will only be successful with continued vigilance in social interactions and continued precaution in public. The change represents a shift from “Urgency” pertaining to mitigating and containing the spread of the virus to a stage of “Stabilization.”

Herbert said he’s disappointed that most Utahns are not wearing masks in public and announced the “A Mask for Every Utahn” campaign. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said Utah is one of the first states to begin reopening the economy and the state’s partnership with Cotopaxi and about 20 other manufacturers across the state will made 2 million masks available to Utahns in areas of critical need will further protect Utahns during the state's soft reopening. Funded by the CARES act and in partnership with manufacturers in rural communities, Cox said the masks will go to healthcare workers first and asks that individuals only place orders for one mask per person in the household. 

Herbert said more opportunities to visit retail operations become available, wearing PPE is even more crucial for public health. Cox added that according to studies on the spread of influenza, the use of masks reduces the spread of infection. While wearing masks can be uncomfortable, Herbert said they are essential for the state to eventually move into the “Recovery” stage.

Some changes that will occur after the transition takes place on Friday include group limits being increased to 20 individuals from 10, restaurants resuming dine-in services with increased precautions and distancing methods, gyms, hair and nail salons reopening and allowing for non-essential travel within the state — though Herbert says there is the possibility that some areas will be able to work with local health officials to expand or restrict their risk categories as needed.

State parks are now open to the public, and Herbert said he’s working to get national parks, like Lake Powell, opened by May 1. Herbert said playgrounds are still closed, but with proper social distancing, trails and parks are open for use.

Herbert added more information on the status of the state's $800,000 Hydroxychloroquine order will be available when the legal counsel review concludes in a couple days.