SALT LAKE CITY — There could be a big announcement from Gov. Gary Herbert about new public safety restrictions following the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across the state. Meanwhile, health officials say they’re preparing a new messaging campaign for younger people to convince them to be more careful and help slow the spread.
On Monday, the Utah Department of Health announced 622 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one new death. That is much lower than the 1,117 new cases announced Thursday, however, health analysts say the most recent numbers should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Results on Mondays and Tuesdays are usually lower than the rest of the week because of fewer people getting tested over the weekend.
Herbert held an extensive meeting with the state’s Unified Command, and they discussed possible changes in the state’s response to the disease. Department of Public Safety spokesman Joe Dougherty says the recommendations are on the governor’s desk, and he’s expected to make an announcement Tuesday.
Dougherty says the governor gave some examples of what he’s considering during a press conference last week.
“Things like a mask mandate or changing a (risk-level) color status are on the table,” according to Dougherty.
Emergency officials are especially pleased to see Utah County leaders taking the initiative after hearing they were at the center of the largest spike, especially after BYU and UVU commenced classes. The County Commission has held several Zoom meetings with mayors and the Utah County Health Department to try and get a handle on the outbreak.
Dougherty says, “We’re all really encouraged to see the conversations that are happening at the local level, and people should just know their state government continues to treat this with a high level of concern.”
Since health officials say teens and young adults are the driving force behind the current surge; they’re going to kick off a new messaging campaign designed to speak directly to that demographic.
Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko says, “What we want to do is target those age groups with some appropriate messaging. We know not all age groups are impacted by the same type of messaging.”
Hudachko says their teams have already done some informal focus groups and are trying to find the right way to convince younger people to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Even if they aren’t sure what the message will be yet they know where they’re going to place it.
“We’re definitely looking at TikTok, Spotify and a number of different areas where people in this age group tend to hang out,” he says.
The campaign is expected to launch by the end of this week.