Utah aiming to keep COVID-19 fatalities, unemployment low

A "NOW HIRING" is shown on the door of Padeli's Street Greek restaurant Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Utah has set new goals for fighting the coronavirus pandemic that include keeping the state's fatality rate below 1% and maintaining an unemployment rate below 4.5%, state leaders said. Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders rolled out their new plan, which prioritizes both public health and boosting the state's economy through the fall and winter. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah has set new goals for fighting the coronavirus pandemic that include keeping the state’s fatality rate below 1% and maintaining an unemployment rate below 4.5%, state leaders said Thursday.

Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders rolled out their new plan, which prioritizes both public health and boosting the state’s economy through the fall and winter. Utah is currently meeting its two primary targets with a death rate of 0.77% and a 4.5% unemployment rate, according to state data.

State officials also unveiled an online dashboard that will be updated weekly to track whether the state is meeting its goals. Those new targets include controlling outbreaks, increasing mask compliance, restoring consumer confidence to pre-pandemic levels and reducing the number of weekly unemployment claims.

“We have to do all of these different things both on the economic side and the health side,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox told reporters Thursday. “That’s how we’re going to get through this pandemic together.”

More than 56,000 cases of the virus have been reported, and 430 people have died, according to state data. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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