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Letter: Utah needs a statewide mask mandate

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Gov. Gary Herbert provides updates on the ongoing pandemic in Utah during a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

New York City and New York state were the nightmarish epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in April, even as the virus was spreading across the world. Now New Yorkers are among the safest in the world in regards to the coronavirus. And why?

No mystery: As Paul Krugman has written recently, partial herd immunity “might be a small factor,” but New York state “did simple, obvious things. Bars are closed; indoor dining is still banned. Above all, there’s a face-mask mandate that people generally obey.” Other states have followed suit. And the benefits of statewide mandates to wear masks and maintain social distancing are obvious if you look at the numbers.

In Utah, and particularly Utah County, we have seen no decrease in cases per day since mid-August, with an alarming spike over the past week — mainly among young people, who often tolerate the illness but spread the infection. It passes to older people, who suffer more grievous illness and, much more often, death.

Gov. Gary Herbert cannot make this a political issue. Voluntary compliance is not working. Please, make statewide masks and social distancing mandatory, or at least give the option to counties or cities statewide.

Tom Metcalf