SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Governor Gary Herbert unveiled a plan Friday that provides a path forward for the state’s economy. Under the guidance of local health departments and the continued diligence of personal hygiene and social distancing, Herbert anticipates in-person dining at restaurants, open gyms and elective surgeries could resume as early as May.
“Good things are happening; we’ve done very well,” Herbert said. “It’s not time to spike the football. We have a plan in place, it’s a pathway forward which we are following which has given us good results.”
Herbert said Utah’s plan, which he referred to as Utah Leads Together 2.0, mirrors guidelines that President Donald Trump outlined for the country on Thursday.
“The handwashing needs to continue, sing Happy Birthday twice for 20 seconds; wearing protective masks; having…some social distancing that takes place, that needs to continue, maybe in many ways even more aggressively. Masks need to be part of your regular repertoire – part of your fashion statement as I’ve said – as we move out of urgency toward stabilization.”
The “stabilization” phase is expected to take several months and Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson echoed what Gov. Herbert described, that it shouldn’t be viewed as a switch that suddenly gets turned on, but more like a dial that slowly gets turned with incremental steps.
“Our color coded health guidance system that you’ll see in this plan,” Rep. Wilson explained, “outlines the progress that we can take from the red, or high risk level that we’re at today, to the next step, which is the orange (or moderate) risk level, to yellow (low risk) to green, the new normal.”
During its special session, the House created legislation that creates the Public Health Economic Emergency Commission to both advise and make recommendations to the Governor regarding the state’s response to COVID-19.
Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce CEO Derek Miller encouraged every business owner in the state to become familiar with the Utah Leads Together plan, and its addendum, to help guide them as they create their own plans to resume operations.
“It is one thing for businesses to be open, and it is something else for a customer to feel comfortable enough to walk through that door,” Miller exclaimed. “The measured approach that is contemplated in this plan is not just about how a business can begin to turn the dial and reactivate the economy, it is also about building consumer confidence.”
Sister Jean Bingham, General Relief Society President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced a cooperation between Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah health systems and Latter-day Saint Charities to make clinical face masks for health care workers.
“Volunteers will sew five million clinical face masks for front line care providers,” Bingham explained. “This will provide a 100-day supply of this critical personal protective care equipment to the hospital systems. Any masks not needed here will be donated to other hospitals systems throughout the country.”
She said only straight-line sewing is needed. Videos and patterns are available online and on Facebook. She estimates that 50,000 local volunteers will have donated 750,000 hours on this project. Details and sign up opportunities are available at projectprotect.health.
Herbert also announced that state parks throughout the state would begin reopening to both Utah residents and non-residents.