Utah Declares Statewide Mask Mandate As Hospitals Approach Critical Capacity
On Sunday, Utah’s Republican governor Gary Herbert declared a new state of emergency and a statewide mask mandate. The move came as hospitals approached critical capacity and the state’s positive coronavirus test rate hovered around 17%.
“We cannot afford to debate this issue any longer,” Herbert said. “Individual freedom is certainly important, and it is our rule of law that protects that freedom.”
But Idaho’s Governor Brad Little continues to avoid a statewide approach, leaving the choice to individual jurisdictions. On Monday, Little’s office released a statement saying “your personal actions are the one and only thing that will defend our veterans from succumbing to the enemy virus.”
Dr. David Pate of the Idaho Coronavirus Task Force fears Idaho could be headed in Utah’s direction.
“The big challenge that many Idaho hospitals are having today is not having enough beds, it’s having enough staff,” Pate said.
Dr. Pate says there’s no question about it: Masks work to stop the spread.
“At the end of the day, it's all going to be about whether we follow the advice either voluntarily or under a mandate,” Pate said.
He also encourages Idahoans to get a flu shot as soon as possible and avoid Thanksgiving travel.
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