SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah National Guard has canceled the annual Governor's Day celebration for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 concerns.
The 66th celebration was scheduled for Sept. 11 and included a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The event is designed to provide the state commander in chief, Gov. Spencer Cox, the opportunity to honor service members and their families and review the camp's units.
"After careful consideration of the increasing threat from the COVID-19 delta variant poses to Utahns, we decided to cancel the event," Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard said in a statement. "This decision was not made lightly but was made after collaborating with senior government officials to determine the right course of action."
Turley directed units to focus on increasing readiness, including medical readiness, in place of the event.
"The Utah National Guard is committed to being part of the solution. The safety and health of our force and our communities is our top priority," Turley said. "The Utah National Guard is hosting vaccination clinics during drill periods to increase our readiness and to preserve our force."
Those vaccination clinics will be conducted from September to October, according to Turley.
Mass vaccination sites may return to Utah as booster shots of the vaccine become available. Booster shots are still waiting on a full review and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some counties in Utah are already preparing for increased demand for vaccinations; Davis County plans to reopen its mass vaccination site at the Legacy Events Center.
The National Guard event was canceled last year by government and Utah leaders after assessing the extensive damage and citizen impact from a large windstorm.
Even though the event has been canceled two years in a row, Turley said there have been many opportunities for the governor to meet with and honor Utah National Guard troops.
"The Utah National Guard has several events scheduled throughout the year where the governor has an opportunity to honor service members. We look forward to next year's Governor's Day event, where the governor will be able to review his troops and honor the service and sacrifice of service members and their families," Turley added.
Despite the event being canceled, the Utah National Guard still plans on commemorating 9/11 and is expected to release a video on social media to "honor veterans, service members, families and employers who have made sacrifices over the past 20 years."