The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has renewed a statewide public health order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Utah communities. The order replaces a previous order that expired at midnight last night, and is effective through March 25, 2021.
Some key elements of the order include:
• Masks: Are still required to be worn by individuals statewide in all counties across all transmission levels (high, moderate, low) when they are indoors in public settings, or outdoors when physical distancing is not feasible. Eight weeks after the UDOH announces the state has been allocated 1,633,000 first doses of vaccine masks will not be required in counties designated as having a “low” transmission level. To date, 444,905 prime doses have been allocated to Utah.
• High School Extracurricular Testing: Often referred to as “Test to Play”, testing will now be required of all high school students participating in a one-time school-sponsored extracurricular activity such as a social dance. Students must follow the isolation and quarantine protocols found in the school manual.
• K-12 Testing: Often referred to as “Test to Stay”, school districts are instructed to work with their local health departments (LHD) to determine the best course of action when a school reaches the outbreak thresholds established in the school manual. Districts may implement Test to Stay, or take other action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. If the school implements Test to Stay, any student who tests positive must transition to remote learning for 10 days from the date of their test. Students who choose not to be tested should also transition to remote learning for 10 days if less than 60% of the school population participated in the testing event OR if the percent positivity from the testing event is 2.5% or higher. The intent is to ensure schools do not transition entirely to remote learning when they reach the outbreak threshold level.
• Bars: In counties with “moderate” transmission levels, bars are no longer required to limit occupancy to 75%. A bar in a “moderate” county is required to ensure patrons wear masks when they are within six feet of patrons from a separate party.
• Transmission Level Thresholds: The 7-day average percent positivity metric used to determine levels of transmission will now use the “test over test” percent positivity metric. Because the “test over test” percent positivity skews lower than the previous “people over people” the range for percent positivity in the Transmission Index will shift lower. A 7-day average percent positivity of greater than 10% will belong to the “high” transmission category; a percent positivity between 5.1%-9.9% will belong to the “moderate” transmission category; and a percent positivity of 5% or less will belong to the “low” transmission category.
• Public Gatherings in Moderate: Public gatherings, such as live events, movie theatres, sporting events, weddings, recreation, and entertainment (does not apply to an individual attending or participating in a religious service), may occur with side-by-side seating if all patrons are wearing masks and can attest to being free of COVID-19 symptoms, and are not subject to quarantine or isolation. In the event someone in attendance tests positive for COVID-19, the event hosts must be able to contact any attendee who was a close contact of the positive cases. Masks may be removed to eat or drink, but six feet physical distancing must be maintained from anyone from a separate party during that time.
For more information on the COVID-19 Transmission Index and the public health order, including what businesses and individuals can do to help limit the spread of disease, visit coronavirus-stage.at.utah.gov/utah-health-guidance-levels.