Gov. declares COVID-19 state of emergency as county cases level off

by David Boyle

News Director

There are now 107 active COVID-19 cases in San Juan County, down nine cases from 116 last week.

San Juan County Health District Director Kirk Benge says after increased quarantine and social distancing efforts, cases are leveling off in Monticello. Cases are up slightly in the central part of the county, including Blanding, White Mesa, Aneth, and Montezuma Creek.

Benge relays his thanks to the community, especially those who are quarantining and self-isolating when asked. He explains that while there are 107 active cases, there’s usually triple or quadruple that amount of people who are impacted, including quarantining and monitoring symptoms.

Benge said the decrease in cases over the past week shows that family members, friends, and coworkers are quarantining when exposed to a case.

Benge adds that the sewage data for Blanding continues to rise so there may be more cases than the department is aware of. He reminds people in and around Blanding to be vigilant and get tested if needed.

Rising cases throughout Utah have resulted in hospital and ICU beds in state health institutions reaching capacity.

In response, Utah Governor Gary Herbert issued a state of emergency executive order for the state on Sunday evening.

The order went into effect Monday, November 9 and will remain until at least November 23.

Restrictions include a statewide mask mandate and a limit on casual social gatherings to household-members only. The order places all youth and high school extracurricular activities on hold and requires weekly testing for students enrolled at colleges who attend at least one in-person class per week.

The mask mandate extends beyond November 23 and requires a mask in public when within six feet of anyone you don’t live with. The mandate is enforceable in business settings.

While businesses will not be required to shut down as part of the order, they must require employees to wear masks, request patrons wear masks, and post signage to that effect. Businesses that fail to do so will be subject to fines from the Labor Commission.

The social gathering limit restricts any in-person gathering of individuals from separate households until at least November 23. That does not include gatherings for educational or religious purposes.

The extracurricular activities restriction will impact basketball tryouts, wrestling practices, and club meetings at San Juan and Monticello high schools, as well as city-sponsored rec leagues.

The order does not impact public schools, which will remain open.

Weekly COVID-19 testing of students at institutes of higher education are encouraged to begin as soon as possible but must be in place by January 1, 2021.

Utah State University Blanding officials are in consultation with the main USU campus to get testing up and running as soon as possible.

At Thanksgiving break, USU Blanding will go virtual for the remainder of the semester that ends in December. USU Blanding hopes to make tests available to students before they go home ahead of Thanksgiving.

Monticello COVID-19 cases decreased by 22 over the past week, from 57 to 35.

Blanding saw an increase of three cases, from 40 to 43.

Cases in the Montezuma Creek and Aneth area increased from 15 to 17.

In order to better protect the identities of those with COVID-19, the health department reporting has four areas with a small number of cases.

The La Sal and Spanish Valley area, Bluff and the Mexican Hat area all have less than five cases.

The Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain area also has less than five cases, which is up from zero last week.

Fatalities in San Juan County have held steady at 30, with the last death occurring in September.

San Juan Record

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PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
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