June 24, 2020
Providing data and analysis to Governor Herbert on the request to require face coverings
Salt Lake County, UT – On June 23, Mayor Wilson requested Governor Herbert allow for Salt Lake County to mandate the wearing of face coverings in public places. Understanding that Governor Herbert’s office has said “local health departments should bring their data and analysis to the Utah Department of Health if they believe there is a need to vary from current guidelines,” Salt Lake County Health Department Director, Gary Edwards, wrote to the Utah Department of Health Director, General Jeff Burton, on data and analysis specific to Salt Lake County’s request:
In addition to the letter from Mayor Wilson on June 23, 2020, I wanted to provide you supporting information including data and analysis specific to Salt Lake County to reinforce our call for mandatory wearing of face coverings in public. Please consider the following:
- Salt Lake County has had 100 confirmed cases reported or above per day since June 2. This past week (June 17-19), Salt Lake County experienced a series of several days of 200+ confirmed cases per day. As mentioned in the previous letter, studies have shown that the risk of transmission falls from 17.4% for an individual not wearing a mask to 3.1%. Mandatory wearing of face coverings in public would significantly reduce the risk of community spread.
- The number of hospitalized in Salt Lake County has increased significantly. On May 29, there were 74 individuals hospitalized in Salt Lake County due to COVID-19. On June 22, there were 113 individuals hospitalized, an increase of 40% over the past 25 days. While the hospitals currently have capacity for COVID-19 patients, our concern is that continued increase in hospitalization will further stress our healthcare systems, having cascading effects across the state. With a reduced risk of transmission by individuals wearing face coverings, we can pre-emptively reduce future stress on the medical system, allowing hospitals to operate without resorting to crisis standards of care.
- Our testing and contact tracing systems are under a significant amount of stress due to the rise of potential and actual cases in Salt Lake County. Utah and Salt Lake County are leaders in the nation for testing, with 12,000+ tests completed per week in Salt Lake County alone. With an increase number of tests being completed and a better operating picture of the spread of COVID-19 being understood comes the additional stress of being able to conduct meaningful investigations.
Salt Lake County has a track record of implementing and enforcing guidelines across communities in the emergency response to COVID-19. This included strong messaging and support from communities and stakeholders.
I thank you for your leadership, and hope that this letter reinforces our request to Governor Herbert for mandatory wearing of face coverings in public.