Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Coronavirus Task Force are recommending that any gathering of more than 100 people be cancelled beginning Monday, March 16, for at least two weeks. These measures are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Additionally, any gatherings where people cannot be at least six feet apart are also being recommended for cancellation or postponement. Adults over the age of 60 or those with underlying health symptoms should avoid all gatherings, as should anybody feeling sick, especially symptoms that include fever, shortness of breath, and a cough.
During that two-week period, testing capabilities through the Utah Public Health Laboratory and private labs will be rapidly increased. Those test results will give state officials a better idea about the spread of COVID-19 and help them determine if tighter restrictions are needed.
Along with the general guidelines, additional measures were announced during the noon press conference for higher education and public schools.
Utah State University President Noelle Crockett announced they are moving to an online format Wednesday, March 18. Classes have been canceled through Tuesday, March 17, as they prepare for the transition. Non-essential travel has been suspended. Events and large gatherings have also been canceled and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For more details, visit http://www.usu.edu/
University of Utah President Ruth Watkins also announced a transition to online classes beginning March 18 for the rest of the semester. (Classes are canceled March 16 and 17 while the online transition takes place.) University-sponsored events will be restricted to those with fewer than 100 people. International and domestic travel, as well as in-state travel to large gatherings, have been restricted. For more details, visit utah.edu.
All of the colleges and universities in the state’s higher education system are trading classrooms for online curriculum, including Southern Utah University, Salt Lake Community College, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Dixie State University and Snow College. Brigham Young University and Westminster College, which are private colleges, are also closing campuses and going to online classes. Transition dates vary for each school so check each school’s website to see their schedules.
K-12 Public Schools
Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the safety of students and the adults who serve them is their top priority. All out-of-state travel for schools has been canceled, and assemblies and athletic events have been postponed or canceled. Staggering schedules to limit contact among students is under consideration. At this point, K-12 schools are not closing. The state, schools and local health departments are watching the situation closely and “transitioning from getting ready for the possibility to preparing for the probability [of closures],” said Dickson.