SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday issued an executive order changing the health plan’s terminology from “risk levels” to “levels of restriction.”
The change comes after criticism that Utah’s color-coded phased guidelines for reopening the economy amid the pandemic misinformed people about the actual risk level in the state, and as schools reopen their doors.
Herbert early in July acknowledged the state may have made mistakes in its color-coded guidance system. Going from red (high risk) to orange (moderate risk), and then to yellow (low risk), Herbert said people thought they didn’t have to take as many precautions.
“We did not anticipate that people would change their behaviors and be more casual and cavalier,” he said at the time. “We’ve become a little complacent and lackadaisical. Let’s take it seriously.”
Under the new phased guidelines, green now represents the “minimum level of restriction” rather than the “new normal,” yellow is “low level of restriction” rather than “low risk,” and orange is now “moderate level of restriction” instead of “moderate risk.”
Salt Lake City remains the only area in Utah in the moderate restriction phase, while the rest of Utah’s cities and counties are all at moderate and low-level restrictions. Salt Lake, Summit and Grand counties, as well as Logan in Cache County and the town of Springdale in Washington County, are the only areas with public mask mandates.
The executive order Herbert issued Friday also allows jurisdictions to adopt mask mandates without prior approval from the Utah Department of Health.
Utah health officials confirmed 345 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Saturday.
Just over 5,000 people received tests for the novel coronavirus, of which there was a 6.8% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. They bring the state’s total cases since the pandemic began to 46,321 of 594,901 people tested, an overall positive rate of 7.8%.
The rolling seven-day average for new cases is 365 per day, and the average positive rate of tests is 9.2%. Currently, 167 patients are hospitalized in Utah with the novel coronavirus, four fewer than on Friday. The state’s intensive care units — which have about 600 beds overall — are 66.5% full with coronavirus patients and others, while other hospital beds are 52.9% full.
The three deaths reported Saturday were a Sanpete County man older than 85, who was not hospitalized when he died; a Salt Lake County man between 65-84, who was a long-term care resident; and a Salt Lake County woman between 25-44, who was hospitalized when she died.
About 37,300 of Utah’s cases are considered recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses.
The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district:
- Salt Lake County, 21,621; 1,409 hospitalized; 211 deaths.
- Utah County, 9,304; 433 hospitalized; 38 deaths.
- Davis County, 3,388; 191 hospitalized; 21 deaths.
- Southwest Utah, 3,312; 185 hospitalized; 26 deaths.
- Weber-Morgan, 2,971; 188 hospitalized; 25 deaths.
- Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 2,384; 114 hospitalized; 7 deaths.
- Summit County, 729; 53 hospitalized; 1 death.
- San Juan County, 653; 87 hospitalized; 26 deaths.
- Tooele County, 613; 30 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Wasatch County, 592; 23 hospitalized; 4 deaths.
- Central Utah, 447; 26 hospitalized; 3 deaths.
- TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 190; 14 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
- Southeast Utah, 117; 7 hospitalized; 1 death.