SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state officials had updates Wednesday for Utah veterans who have not yet received their stimulus checks, as well as on lobby access at some Division of Motor Vehicles locations in the state.
Utah Veterans and Military Affairs Executive Director Gary Harter and Utah Division of Motor Vehicles Director Monte Roberts joined state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn at the daily coronavirus briefing, broadcast remotely from the state Capitol.
Help for Utah veterans
Harter said his office has been working remotely to help veterans throughout the pandemic. One of the questions he's received the most, he said, is how veterans can receive their stimulus checks if they haven't yet.
"Veterans who do not have dependents and have not yet received their stimulus payments do not need to take any action at this time," Harter said. "They should expect to receive their checks in about two or three weeks.
"But the main thing is for veterans who have dependents and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019. You must register with the IRS at IRS.gov by this coming Tuesday, May 5, to ensure that you receive your check — especially for the $500 per child added to the economic impact payment."
Harter also mentioned a survey his office has conducted among active-duty military and veterans recently. Over 75% of National Guardsmen and reservists reported the pandemic has impacted their ability to drill and train, he said. Almost 40% of working veterans said they lost hours, were laid off or were furloughed due to the pandemic.
"We encourage all veterans who fall into these categories to apply for benefits with the Department of Workforce Services at jobs.utah.gov," Harter said.
He reminded Utahns to watch for the Salute Utah Flyover that will occur starting Thursday at 1 p.m.
Five Division of Motor Vehicles locations — which handle vehicle registrations in Utah and are separate from the Driver License Division — will open their lobbies on an appointment-only basis starting this Friday, May 1, Roberts announced.
Those will be the Salt Lake, South Valley, Farmington, Ogden and Provo locations. The South Valley location is in Draper.
Utahns can make an appointment on the state DMV website.
Roberts said the locations' previously extended drive-thru hours will return to normal — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. He encouraged Utahns to follow social distancing and wear masks when visiting DMV locations.
Roberts said the appointments will be treated like a "Disney FastPass."
"We are going to prioritize individuals that come to these offices having already scheduled an appointment, to check them in first," he said.
In its daily update on COVID-19 cases in Utah, the state health department on Wednesday announced 152 new cases and no new deaths from the disease.
That brings the state to 4,495 total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, up from 4,343 cases on Tuesday. There have been 383 total hospitalizations and a total of 45 novel coronavirus-related deaths in Utah.
The total number of cases reported by the health department includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah’s outbreak began, including those who are infected now, those who have recovered from the disease, and those who have died.
The case numbers represent a 3.5% increase over Tuesday's count; 4.2% of Utah's 105,778 tests have returned positive for COVID-19 so far. The state reports an increase of 3,139 tests over yesterday.
Various businesses and sectors of the Utah economy will begin to reopen on Friday. Salt Lake County officials said in a news conference earlier Wednesday that customers and employees will be required to wear masks and follow other precautions at reopened businesses.
Vulnerable individuals should still practice "extra precautions" as the economy reopens, Dunn said.
"These individuals include those over the age of 65, residents of long-term care facilities, and individuals with certain underlying medical conditions," she said. "It's still going to be really important for these individuals to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing."
Responding to reporters' questions, Dunn said it's certainly possible the state will see a spike in cases when businesses reopen, but said Utah's health systems are "prepared for it."
She said the move from red to orange — from high to moderate risk, per the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan — is "definitely aggressive," but feels the state is "striking the right balance" between controlling COVID-19 and protecting the economy.
"I think we have the ability to control the pandemic here while we're still opening up parts of our economy," Dunn said.
Utah Veterans and Military Affairs Executive Director Gary Harter and Utah Division of Motor Vehicles Director Monte Roberts joined state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn at the daily coronavirus briefing. Watch the replay of the event below.