In response to growing numbers state imposes covid prevention measures on San Juan County

New Covid-19 related restrictions are in place in San Juan County per the order of the state, including mandatory mask wearing and restrictions on social gatherings.

The State of Utah’s previous color-coded risk index was replaced last week by the Covid-19 Transmission index. Counties in the state will be placed in one of three transmission levels: High, Moderate, or Low. These levels correspond directly to case rates, positivity rates, and ICU utilization.

At a press conference held by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, it was announced that San Juan and Grand Counties had been moved from moderate transmission level to high. The neighboring counties are two of 13 counties to go from moderate to high on Thursday, October 22.

San Juan County has 81 active cases as of October 22 an increase of 52 cases since October 13. San Juan County has the 11th highest 14 day case rate per 100 thousand in the state with a 22-percent positive rate of those tested.

San Juan Public Health Director Kirk Benge says on October 13, public health staff saw data that suggested potential community spread in youth and individuals working with youth in and around Monticello.

He added recent wastewater testing suggests that we will also see a large uptick in cases in the Blanding area, and they are beginning to see a number of new positive test results that corroborate that. He adds the vast majority of those 81 active cases live in Blanding and Monticello.

The move from moderate to high brings a few changes to requirements of San Juan County residents. Under the guidelines, social gatherings such as family dinners, get-togethers with friends, and book clubs will be limited to 10 or fewer people. The rule does not impact religious services.

Additionally, masks are required to be worn in public indoor settings, and outdoors when physical distancing is not feasible, including both employees and patrons.

If San Juan County were to move from high to moderate transmission level in the coming weeks, social gatherings of 25 or fewer would be permitted, as would gatherings larger than 25 if everyone wears a mask.

Additionally under a moderate transmission rate, mask requirements in public spaces would be up to the discretion of county leaders, in consultation with public health officials.

The announcement comes as state wide ICU rooms are 72-percent full over the past week, with 18-percent linked to coronavirus.

“Hospitalization rates are going through the roof,” Governor Herbert advised. “It should cause us all concern with our ICU units being occupied by COVID-19 patients which has the potential to push out others who need it. (...) It’s not just the rooms either, it’s also the personnel to man our ICU units (...) What we have going on right now is not sustainable.”

Herbert added that the spread they are seeing now is not occurring at businesses but mostly at social interactions.

“We have a good plan in place but it’s only as good as how much we’re willing to modify our own behaviors,” Herbert said. “No matter how good it is if we don’t change and comply the trend will continue to go in the wrong direction.”

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