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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state will extend its "Stay Home, Stay Safe" directive through the end of April.
His order, delivered in a Thursday afternoon press conference, mirrors that of Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who extended the county's more stringent stay-at-home order through May 1.
"The data shows that what we're doing is working," Herbert said. He added that the extension will put Utah in line with federal recommendations, but acknowledged it will be difficult to spend the upcoming Easter holiday at home.
"Again, the safest place to be is home," Herbert said. "We believe that adherence, over the next couple of weeks, to the directives we have in place will enable us to get from this 'urgency' phase of our state plan, to move toward the 'stabilization' effort and then recovery. So what we do today will help us improve tomorrow."
He said his directive requires Utahns to "eliminate all but essential travel," but still encouraged Utahns to patronize restaurants and grocery stores, safely. Herbert asked Utahns to wear a mask when shopping.
Herbert closed his remarks by announcing that he will participate in a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow to support recovery efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic. The fast was first announced by President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who invited all church members and nonmembers worldwide to participate.
"We would like to invite the people of Utah, whatever your religious affiliation is or if you have no religious affiliation," Herbert said. "Let's all join together in a united effort to ask the blessings of heaven to come upon us."
He encouraged Utahns to not only pray, but "find somebody to help."
"So along with our prayer efforts, let's make sure that we have our 'do' efforts in place, where we do things and help people," Herbert said. "We have an opportunity because we are a blessed people here in the great state of Utah and here in America."
Tomorrow my family and I will participate in a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for relief from the coronavirus pandemic. We invite all to join us. #utcovid19#OneUtah#TogetherUtahhttps://t.co/uWID4mdFAy— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) April 9, 2020
New case totals
Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn also gave an update on COVID-19 cases in Utah Thursday afternoon, revealing 130 new positive tests.
The state has now seen 1,976 positive tests since the pandemic began. That cumulative number includes Utahns who have recovered, died or been hospitalized with the disease.
As of Thursday, the state had conducted 38,373 tests for COVID-19. Dunn did not announce any new deaths from the virus; 13 Utahns have died of COVID-19 so far.
The uptick represents a 7% increase over yesterday's case totals. It comes as Utah is seeing declining testing totals despite expanded access, prompting Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to encourage Utahns with symptoms to get tested.
Thursday's numbers saw 2,257 new tests reported over Wednesday.
Salt Lake County still has far and away the most COVID-19 cases in Utah: 935 county residents have tested positive, and 83 have been hospitalized.