May 15, 2020

On Saturday, May 16, Utah is transitioning from the moderate (orange) to the low (yellow) risk level, except for Grand, Summit, and Wasatch counties, Salt Lake City and West Valley City, which will remain in the moderate (orange) phase. The decision to transition most of the state to a lower risk phase was made after carefully reviewing state data and observing trends over the past several weeks.

On May 14, the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission held a press conference with the governor and Utah Department of Health to discuss the data driving recommendations to protect Utah’s vulnerable populations and allow the state to carefully transition to lower risk statuses. Highlights include:

  • 99 percent of Utahns testing positive for COVID-19 are recovering.

  • 92 percent of individuals are able to recover at home. 

  • 94 percent of fatalities have been either over 65, have had high-risk pre-existing health conditions, or both as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Individuals identified as high risk need to take added precautions because they are more likely to suffer severe illness from COVID-19. Vulnerable populations still need to follow the high risk (red) phase protocols.

Guidelines for individuals and businesses moving into the low-risk (yellow) phase of the Utah Leads Together plan can be found here. Guidelines for those still in the moderate risk (orange) phase can be found here. Information on the color-coded risk phases can be found here.

Utah has received accolades as a state for having one of the most robust rainy-day funds in the nation, and one of the country’s strongest economies heading into the pandemic. Death rates from COVID-19 in Utah are around one percent — among the lowest in the country. The state is one of the two top states in the country for avoiding COVID-19-related unemployment. Utah has been more vigilant than almost any other state in population testing and data gathering. Real-time data is enabling state leaders to make well-informed, strategic policy decisions in efforts to protect both public health and jobs. These measures have led us to be ranked least vulnerable to COVID-19 impacts among all 50 states. A Harvard Study recently listed Utah as one of only nine states with enough COVID-19 testing to safely reopen.

Utah’s hospitals and health care systems have not been overrun. ICUs have not exceeded patient capacity. In fact, they have not even exceeded 60 percent of capacity — including patients of all types — for the past three weeks. State leaders must walk a fine line between protecting public health and safeguarding jobs. Where there is economic damage, there is almost always related health damage. Far more Utahns are suffering economic damage from COVID-19 than health damage. 

While our state health and economic policies during the pandemic are being hailed as successful by national health experts and economists, Utah has been leading the nation throughout this experience because of our people. Utahns have found creative and innovative ways to keep working, retain employees, stay connected to loved ones, secure and create personal protective equipment and help neighbors. They have donated to food banks and shared food, staples and other needed supplies. Thank you, Utah, for pulling together to combat this virus as an effective statewide team. In so many ways, Utah shines.

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