In the face of a significant COVID-19 surge, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced yesterday the implementation of a new regime for evaluating COVID-19 transmission risk and enhanced measures for mask use, social distancing, and other steps to combat transmission. Effective October 13, 2020, the state of Utah will use a three-tiered Transmission Index, placing counties in one of three transmission levels: High, Moderate, or Low. The Transmission Index identifies three public health metrics used to determine which counties are placed in which transmission level. These metrics are case rates, positivity rates, and ICU utilization. To see which metric thresholds correspond to the three transmission levels, see the Utah Health Guidance Levels here.
Public health data will be analyzed weekly. Counties can move from a lower level to a higher level. Changes from a higher level to a lower level may occur every 14 days at minimum, when thresholds of the three public health metrics are met. Currently, the following counties have been designated as High Transmission areas: Cache, Garfield, Juab, Salt Lake, Utah, and Wasatch.
Varying actions are required for the different transmission levels. In High Transmission areas, masks will be required in all indoor settings, and in outdoor settings where public distancing is not feasible. Masks are also required in all K-12 schools and all state-owned buildings, including colleges and universities. Masks are required at any establishment that allows public gathering or live events such as movie theaters, sporting events, weddings, recreational activities, or other entertainment. This mask requirement applies to all such establishments, regardless of the county or transmission level in which they are located. Performers are exempt from this requirement. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in High Transmission areas. This requirement does not apply to formal religious services or “events with organizational oversight.”
The required actions for counties in lower transmission levels are less stringent (although the mask requirement is the same for Moderate Transmission level counties until October 29). The new regime maintains familiar requirements for all individuals and businesses, such as social distancing of six feet, appropriate hygiene practices, and following isolation and quarantine practices.
For Utah employers, the new guidance means that businesses in High Transmission areas should require employees and patrons to wear masks indoors and should limit gatherings of more than 10 people. They should continue to be vigilant about social distancing, cleaning and hygiene procedures, and monitoring symptoms among employees. Other general guidance regarding workplace safety and COVID-19 for Utah businesses can be found here.