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Utah Legislature honors state and local health department workers for COVID-19 efforts

Utah public health directors and workers stand in the House gallery as they are applauded by members of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Legislators were voting on HCR6, which recognizes and thanks the individuals who provide accurate data and information to the Legislature, the governor, and Utah citizens in relation to the spread of COVID-19.
Utah public health directors and workers stand in the House gallery as they are applauded by members of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Legislators were voting on HCR6, which recognizes and thanks the individuals who provide accurate data and information to the Legislature, the governor, and Utah citizens in relation to the spread of COVID-19.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Numbers tested. Positivity rates. Hospitalizations. Vaccines given.

Knowing those numbers is vital to a functioning society in the COVID-19 era, and Utah legislators wanted to officially thank those who calculated, crunched and conferred that necessary data.

“(The people) making something complicated, easy to understand and turning it into information that’s actionable,” bill sponsor Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said. “Actionable by us in the Legislature, as we try and make decisions, actionable by the governor’s office as they put things into place and information that’s accessible to every single citizen, one at a time, as they try and sort out what they and their family are going to do.”

HCR6, passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House with a standing ovation for about 10 health officials in the gallery, honors the efforts of epidemiologists, health department directors, contact tracers, data analysts, web designers, communication specialists and public information officers for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These guys, they had no manual and they’ve never dealt with this before, and we put a huge burden on their shoulders,” Ward said.

He said that these directors came into the pandemic “underfunded” and “probably understaffed” and “they have done a fantastic job.”

The resolution states that the Utah Legislature and Gov. Spencer Cox want to “express gratitude and thanks to the many unsung heroes in Utah’s state and county health departments.”

In a separate citation read in the chambers, lawmakers noted: “Through the duration of this pandemic these dedicated professionals are and will continue to be intimately involved in the fight to promote (and) protect the health of every Utahn. ... we express our deepest appreciation to the local health department directors and public health workers, protecting and preserving the greatest assets of ours, our state’s public health.”

Ward shared a story on where his personal gratitude came from when it came to the efforts of an immunization clinic in Davis County. He referred to a post made on Jan. 30 on a Bountiful Facebook group where a resident described the ease of getting a vaccine despite a long line. He became emotional at the praise for the organizers of the clinic at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington and all the outpouring of similar sentiments from Bountiful residents.

“So, that’s a job well done, and I thank you,” Ward said.