SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox now hopes all Utahns can be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning April 1, once again moving up the date for ensuring that every adult in the state who wants the protection against the virus can get it.
The governor has set the end of April as the goal for having enough vaccine doses in the state for every Utah adult who wants to be vaccinated, after initially saying that would take through May. Last week, Cox said that would be sometime in April.
Urging patience after some 700,000 Utahns were added to the state’s coronavirus vaccine eligibility list last Thursday, the governor promised, “We’ll get to you as quickly as we can and hopefully by April, the rest of us, including me, will be eligible after April 1.”
The target date is now April 1, the governor’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, said in a statement.
“We anticipate opening up vaccine eligibility to every adult in the state on April 1 and will likely have 1.5 million first doses in the state by April 10,” Napier-Pearce said, citing negotiations with Utah lawmakers over legislation spelling out an end date for COVID-19 restrictions, including April 10 for the statewide mask mandate.
“Once it became clear that the Legislature planned to end the mask mandate immediately, and with a veto-proof majority, our administration worked with them to push the date back to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” she said.
Napier-Pearce also made it clear the state’s mask mandate does not end completely.
“It’s important to note that the mask mandate will continue after April 10 in schools and for large gatherings,” she said, adding that masks can still be worn voluntarily. “Also, businesses can still require masks. And of course, every individual can choose to wear a mask.”
An increased federal supply of COVID-19 vaccines — the result of the Biden administration purchasing hundreds of millions of additional doses as well as the approval of a third, single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson — means Utah’s allotment is continuing to grow.
Vaccines are now available for Utahns 50 and older; those with specified medical conditions that now includes obesity with a body mass index of now 30 or higher, chronic kidney disease and Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes; health care workers; first responders; long-term care facility residents and staffs; and K-12 teachers and school staffs.
The governor is expected to provide additional information on how the eligibility list will be expanded further at his weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
Utah’s daily COVID-19 numbers
The Utah Department of Health reported 658 new cases of the virus and two additional deaths Wednesday. Since the start of the pandemic a year ago, there have been 376,327 COVID-19 cases in Utah and the state’s death toll has reached 1,992.
To date, 902,391 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, a daily increase of 23,904.
The rolling seven-day average for positive tests is 520 per day, and 7,955 Utahns have been tested for the virus and 18,159 tests conducted since Tuesday. The rolling seven-day average for percent of positive tests is 4.16% when all test results are included and 8.6% when multiple tests by an individual over the past 90 days are left out.
Currently, there are 175 people hospitalized in Utah with COVID-19.
The two deaths reported Wednesday are a Juab County man between 65 and 84 who was hospitalized at the time of his death and a Tooele County woman between 65 and 84 who was a long-term care facility resident.