Salt Lake County‘s mask mandate has been in place for going on four weeks now, but on average, the county has not seen a significant drop in coronavirus cases.

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Caption: KUTV: Brian Mullahy reports{{ }}

“Since the mask requirement went into effect, we’ve seen a stabilization, and we were on an upward trajectory,” said county Mayor Jenny Wilson. “That upward trajectory has been held off by largely the mask requirement.“

The mandate was signed by Wilson and county health director Gary Edwards on June 26, requiring masks be worn in public places where staying six feet apart is not possible.

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From June 16 through the 26, the county had an average of 255 new coronavirus cases per day.

Health experts and the mayor said it would take up to two weeks before the mask requirement would have an impact. So, waiting two weeks, we checked county numbers starting on July 11 through July 21, and the daily average number of new cases was 250 — a drop of just five cases a day.

The mayor said the county never promised a big decrease, and asserted masks have helped ease pressure on hospitals and that “stabilization” has been key in the fight against the virus. 

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She further called on Gov. Gary Herbert to issue a statewide mask mandate.

In an earlier news conference Wednesday, the governor noted Salt Lake County’s mandate has “not hurt,” but is not ready to say it’s the “cause and effect” of a reduction in county cases. He restated he’s pro-mask, urged people to wear one, and did not rule out a potential state mask requirement later.

“One tool in the toolbox is, in fact, a statewide mandate, and that still remains in the bag of tools,” he said. “We’ll see how we’re doing by August 1, but I would hope people would just do it (wear a mask).”

The Republican governor and Democratic mayor may agree on keeping bars and gyms open—even after a White House report last week put Utah in the “Red Zone” among states with rising coronavirus cases—and urged shutting down those establishments in Salt Lake, Tooele, Washington, San Juan, and Millard Counties.

Should bars and gyms in Utah hot spots close, like feds suggest?

© Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

Caption: KUTV: Brian Mullahy reports

“We don’t want further closures,“ said Wilson. “It would have a negative impact on those owners; it would have a negative impact on our economy.“

To change her mind, and seek authority from the governor to order a shutdown of bars and gyms, she said she would need to see new data.

“I would need to know that we were seeing a high rate of spread in those environments,” she said, “and that we had noncompliance of our orders and the state’s, and I’m not seeing that.”

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