Politicians & Business Leaders Made Utah’s Pandemic Worse

Propublica, an excellent investigative journalism non-profit, did a feature story on how in Utah “politicians and business interests pushed health officials aside to control reopening, then cases exploded.”

“Back in April, when public health officials were still helping lead Utah’s response to the coronavirus, the spread of the disease had slowed, stabilizing at fewer than 200 reported cases a day. Then came a shift in power, and priorities.

With key health experts cut out of the decision-making process, including the state epidemiologist and local officials who were stripped of their ability to issue their own restrictions, the governor and the commission quickly swept aside restrictions meant to slow the virus’s advance in Utah. You can now hold indoor events with up to 3,000 people and outdoor events with up to 6,000. You can drink at bars, eat in restaurants and go to the movies.

“To be the ‘boots on the ground’ for the the virus response, the governor appointed Burton, a retired military leader with no medical training who had experience in disaster management.

“Utah’s story is mirrored in states across the country, where leaders sidelined public health experts and forged ahead without meeting criteria scientists say are necessary to reopen.” Read full Propublica article here.

This is a recurring theme in Utah and so many other states. Ignoring the science and the real experts is deadly, and actually hurts the economy in the long run.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake County’s mask mandate appears to be working in bringing the number of cases down. Read Salt Lake Tribune article covering that story here. However, because, as we have said over and over, a pandemic anywhere is a pandemic everywhere, without similar action by the rest of the state, and frankly other states, the benefit of SL County’s actions will be undone by spread from other parts of the state. So unless we can get Gov. Herbert to declare a mask mandate statewide, this slight improvement will likely be short lived.