SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City School District announced on Tuesday that it will still require students to wear masks after several districts last week said they would no longer require them for the last week of school.
Some school districts' decision to ditch the masks came after Gov. Spencer Cox said they would not have to require students and staff to wear masks during the final week of the 2020-2021 school year.
"We've come too far to let go of proven safety practices like mask-wearing with just a few days left in the school year," Salt Lake City School District Interim Superintendent Larry Madden in announcing the decision Tuesday. "While we've been able to offer vaccinations to our educators, staff, and some of our students, very few of our students have been vaccinated thus far. The risk is too great, especially when we consider those in our school communities with pre-existing health conditions or who have family members at home who are high risk for contracting COVID-19. The last thing we want to do is increase the risk in our city just as school is about to let out for the summer."
Madden said that the district made the decision based on science and guidance from public health experts. The district pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarification that although fully vaccinated individuals could safely forgo wearing masks in some settings, K-12 schools should still practice COVID-19 safety protocols through the end of the year.
"Our ask is to stick with us and wear your masks for one more day. We encourage all who are eligible to pursue opportunities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Visit the state coronavirus website to find a vaccination location near you," said Madden.
The last day for Salt Lake City School District is Monday, June 7.
Districts that announced decisions to ditch the masks the last week of school include Canyons, Davis, Granite, Provo, Nebo, Iron County and Juab County.
Eight of the deaths reported Tuesday occurred before April 19 but were still being investigated by state medical examiners, the health department said.
There are now an estimated 7,279 active COVID-19 cases in Utah, the health department reported. The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 317, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "people over people" method is now 6.6%. The positive test rate per day for that time period calculated with the "test over test" method is now 3.5%.
There are 138 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 53 in intensive care, state data shows. About 68% of all intensive care unit hospital beds in Utah are now occupied, including about 71% of ICU beds in the state's 16 referral hospitals. About 51% of non-ICU hospital beds in Utah are now occupied, according to the health department.
A total of 2,429,469 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, up from 2,411,343 Monday. A total of 1,406,156 Utahns have now received at least a first vaccine dose, and 1,126,397 are fully vaccinated. A total of 2,938,103 vaccine doses have been shipped to Utah so far.
About 43.9% of Utah's total population has now received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and 35.1% are fully vaccinated, according to the health department. Among Utahns ages 12 and older, who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, about 54.2% have at least a first dose and 43.5% are fully vaccinated.
The new numbers indicate a 0.06% increase in positive cases since Tuesday. Of the 2,643,815 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 15.2% have tested positive for the disease. The number of total tests conducted since Utah's pandemic began is now at 4,826,116, up 8,821 since Monday. Of those, 3,612 were tests of people who hadn't previously been tested for COVID-19.
The 12 deaths reported Tuesday are:
- A Box Elder County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when she died
- Two Salt Lake County women who were over the age of 85 and were residents of long-term care facilities
- A Salt Lake County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Washington County woman who was over the age of 85 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- A Weber County woman who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was hospitalized when she died
- A Weber County woman who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when she died
- A Salt Lake County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was a resident of a long-term care facility
- Two Utah County men who were between the ages of 65 and 84 and were residents of long-term care facilities
- A Utah County man who was between the ages of 45 and 64 and was not hospitalized when he died
- A Weber County man who was between the ages of 65 and 84 and was hospitalized when he died
Tuesday's totals give Utah 402,988 total confirmed cases, with 16,564 total hospitalizations and 2,271 deaths from the disease. An estimated 393,438 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered.
More information about Utah's health guidance levels is available at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-health-guidance-levels.
Information is from the Utah Department of Health and coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts. For more information on how the Utah Department of Health compiles and reports COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and scroll down to the "Data Notes" section at the bottom of the page.