On Nov. 8, Gov. Gary Herbert announced new statewide COVID-19 mandates that affect all Utahns, including college and university students preparing to return home for the holidays.
During the next two weeks, Herbert plans to expand testing, including implementing weekly testing for university students.
Although Herbert wasn’t completely clear about how universities will implement on-campus testing, Southern Utah University President Scott L. Wyatt sent an email to students about weekly testing just a day before the governor’s address.
President Wyatt said that testing will most likely be available during the week before Thanksgiving. The goal for regular testing is to help reduce the spread as the season moves into colder weather.
“The Utah Health Department is expected to formally ask all colleges and universities to take part in regular COVID-19 testing. We will ask you to be tested weekly. This will be a state-wide coordinated effort to slow the spread of the disease,” President Wyatt wrote.
As SUU prepares to move their schooling online after Thanksgiving break, state officials are trying to slow the spread before the holiday begins. Some students who are moving home for the break are concerned with catching the virus before the break begins.
“I would love to spend Thanksgiving with my immediate and extended family, but I’m worried that I will catch coronavirus and not even know that I’m spreading it,” said an SUU student who requested to remain anonymous.
State officials and universities hope that with regular testing, students will be able to go home confidently and not worry about passing the disease.
Herbert also issued a statewide mask mandate, which included that businesses must have employees wearing masks and put postage outside the store requiring face coverings. If businesses fail to do so, they are subject to fines by the Utah Labor Commission.
SUU is a state university, so a mask requirement was implemented before the fall semester began. However, with the new mandate universities and other public places can now be fined up to $10,000 for not requiring masks.
College and university students statewide have been caught hosting parties that do not follow social distancing guidelines. A massive Halloween party was shut down in Utah County because it was violating social distancing and mask requirement orders.
After data showed that people between ages 15-24 have not been carefully social distancing and have the highest rate of COVID-19 spread, Herbert encouraged students to not gather in social groups outside of regular school hours.
Story by: Lexi Hamel
Photo By: Macau Photo Agency from unsplash.com