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Statewide Public Health Emergency

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am receiving numerous phone calls about the latest COVID-19 orders. Last week, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), in agreement with Governor Herbert, issued a state public health order declaring a statewide public health emergency that will remain in effect until otherwise modified, amended, rescinded or superseded. In addition, the Utah Department of Health issued a public health order adopting COVID-19 Transmission Area Restrictions establishing minimum statewide standards. The order requires individuals in high transmission areas to wear a mask in public and strongly recommends that individuals wear a mask in moderate transmission areas. You can read more here.

The index is a simplified approach that uses data points and actions based on metrics. The three main criterion for determining each county’s transmission level are:

7-day average percent of positive tests by county

This metric shows the average percent of positive COVID-19 results over a seven-day period. When the percent positivity is above 10, it indicates that not enough testing is being conducted. If the number is below five, it means most COVID-19 positive individuals are being captured.

14-day case rate per 100,000 people by county

This metric summarizes new cases reported over the past 14 days per 100,000 people to help inform how quickly the virus is spreading in a given population. It is also referred to as an “incidence rate.”

Statewide ICU Utilization

This metric is an indication of space available within intensive care units throughout the state. Statewide data is collected instead of local data because some localities do not have ICUs or have limited capacity. Statewide numbers provide a more reliable snapshot of ICU availability.

Each county will be automatically categorized as a high, moderate or low transmission area based on the key data points. Counties may change from a lower level to a higher level weekly, but changes from a higher level to a lower level will occur at a minimum of two weeks, depending on data. A county must meet two of the three metrics to transition from phase to phase.

(The smaller sample may result in large swings in the measures, which may not represent the actual situation. In counties with low case volume with less than or equal to 20 cases over the last 14 days, the recommendation will be listed as "review," and local county health officials will determine the index level following the review.)

Data will be reviewed weekly to determine if any changes are necessary. The website will be updated each Thursday with the new metric counts.

The graph below shows Utah’s ICU capacity from May 1 through October 13.

Utah has made strides in our fight against COVID-19. Our state has the lowest case fatality rate and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We are working to enable Utahns to protect their health and provide for their families.

Other News

The Utah State Board of Education announced that Utah’s average composite score on the ACT college entrance exam was the highest among the 15 states that tested all students. More information here.

The number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits in Utah for October 4-10 was 4,658, with more than $14 million paid in benefits. Read the report here.

The Utah Department of Health released recommendations and tips on how to keep Utahns safe from COVID-19 while participating in Halloween festivities. Read the recommendations here.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) Special Envoy on COVID-19 David Nabarro answered questions about COVID-19 from a global perspective. Watch the interview here.

The Department of Homeland Security released the next chapter in the Cyber Essentials Toolkit. Learn more here.

Kind regards,

Senator Ron Winterton

Utah Senate District 26

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