With last week being the most severe yet of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Utah due to the most hospitalizations and confirmed cases reported, according to the Utah Department of Health, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday that Gov. Gary Herbert ordered a statewide mandatory mask mandate.
In response to this, Southern Utah University plans to cancel all campus extracurricular activities over the next two weeks.
Remaining Student Programming Board events, club meet and greets, senate meetings and other events will shift to strictly virtual until Nov. 23. The food drive that is currently being held on campus will continue because it doesn’t involve the gathering of students and staff.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn told the Tribune that she would like to “urge you to only hang out with those who live in your household. This will be the start of us being able to save our healthcare system.”
For the purpose of the mandate, roommates are considered a “household” according to Eric Kirby, the assistant vice president for student affairs at SUU.
Herbert has pushed to place a hold on all school extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events.
The Salt Lake Tribune has also reported that the state’s highest infection rates recently have been among the 15-24 age group, which resulted in Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Richard Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visiting Utah to push to increase rapid testing, especially among college students.
On Saturday, President Scott L. Wyatt released an email to students, writing that “state officials have determined that colleges and universities are in the best position to reach out to people between the ages of 18 and 35 in order to help reduce the spread as we move into colder weather.”
Wyatt also included in the email that the Utah Department of Health is expected to formally ask all colleges and universities to take part in regular COVID-19 testing.
Kirby wrote in a message to SUU’s student government that testing could begin on campus as early as the middle of next week, which Wyatt also mentioned in his email.
For an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, read the latest SUU News article for details.
The University will release more information later on.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz