The state of Utah is divided as the government issues another mask mandate and restrictions, and some Iron County government officials believe that the current plan of action is unnecessary.
On Nov. 8, Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency due to the number of outbreaks throughout the state and the hospitals being overrun. The entire state is now under a mask mandate.
Casual social gatherings are only allowed with people living within the same household until Nov. 23. All school extracurricular activities, sports and clubs are on hold for the duration of the orders. College students, who either live on campus or attend at least one in-person class per week, are required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
After Herbert’s announcement, Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter announced that he would not enforce the governor’s mandate.
“If our store owners and citizens wish to follow those mandates, that’s their choice. But health care is a personal decision and shouldn’t be a government mandate,” Carpenter shared with The Salt Lake Tribune.
The COVID-19 case count is significantly lower in Iron County than in other parts of the state with 330 active cases. The neighboring county, Washington, has over 2000 active cases. Utah’s coronavirus website shared that most of those that end up contracting the virus don’t go to the hospital, and will be able to recover at home.
“The fact of the matter is, our hospital in Iron County isn’t overrun,” Carpenter shared.
Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens regularly posts information about the virus on Facebook to give the public updates on hospital space and other information related to the virus.
According to Cozzens, as of Nov. 10 in Iron County there were no COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, and only two in regular beds. There were still two ICU beds and 24 regular beds available.
Cozzens also shared that Washington County had 10 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds, and 23 in regular beds. There were four ICU beds and 41 regular beds still available.
“This data is information that is derived from hospitals that submit the information daily. If someone says the information is inaccurate and doesn’t match with the current numbers it could be several reasons,” Cozzens shared on Facebook. “The hospital hasn’t reported correctly, there is sometimes a day lag in data, or if a patient is in the hospital from outside the state or county then they are often not counted in the numbers.”
“The whole reason I started posting the data is to counter the nearly daily articles by the press that the ICU’s are full and they are going to start rationing care. I believe the public has a right to accurate information and draw their own conclusions,” Cozzens said.
Story by: Justin Coles
Photo by: Christopher Dimond