Utah county implements face mask mandate after rise in cases
PROVO, Utah (AP) — A county in Utah has implemented a face mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge in the state.
Utah County’s health department issued a public health order Tuesday night that requires face coverings in public immediately and expires Oct. 20. The order does not carry any criminal penalties.
Cases in Utah County have grown 81% in the last week, according to state health officials. The county accounted for 42% of the state’s cases, despite having only 20% of the state’s population.
The mask order came hours after Republican Gov. Gary Herbert announced that he would increase pandemic restrictions in two Utah County cities: Provo and Orem. The new rules limit social gatherings to a maximum of 20 people and limit in-person dining options.
Herbert has urged residents to wear masks for months but has stopped short of ever implementing a statewide mask mandate. He has instead allowed counties to decide if they need bans.
“This is a wise decision by members of the Utah County Commission,” Herbert wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “A countywide mask requirement will help slow the spread of COVID-19 in hotspots across Utah County. We encourage all to wear masks - remember, my mask protects you and yours protects me.”
Several individuals are exempt from Utah County’s mask mandate, including children under the age of 5 and anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Masks are also not required when eating at a restaurant, when running or swimming, or when someone is alone in a facility.