Lawmakers terminate Summit County’s mask mandate (update)
Resolution earns approval in House on Friday
UPDATE: Summit County’s mask mandate is no longer in effect after the Utah House of Representatives voted in favor of the resolution Friday, striking down the public health measure supported by local officials.
“I remain firm in my belief that the actions taken by Summit County and the Summit County Health Department over the last two years have saved lives,” Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant said in a prepared statement sent to The Park Record. “Although the outcome of the vote regarding SJR003 provides a different direction than our Public Health Order, I still believe the action taken to require masks in public places, including schools, was the right one for Summit County.”
Bondurant encouraged residents and visitors to remain diligent amid the omicron surge. The Health Department’s message has not changed because, officials say, the best practices continue to be staying home if sick, receiving the vaccine and a booster shot, and wearing a mask in public indoor spaces.
Utah state senators took aim at Summit County’s COVID response during the first day of the Legislature’s general session.
The Senate passed a resolution with a 22-5 vote along party lines Tuesday night that would overturn mask mandates in Summit and Salt Lake counties. S.J.R. 3, which is sponsored by Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, and was debated without a public hearing, must also be approved by the Utah House of Representatives before it takes effect.
If passed, the legislation would terminate public health orders connected to face coverings, restricting the authority of Summit County officials — and officials in other jurisdictions — to implement measures in response to the pandemic. Since it’s a joint resolution, it does not require any action from Gov. Spencer Cox.
The resolution also targets a health order in Summit County declaring the pandemic to be a public health state of emergency. That order was implemented in August and reauthorized by the County Council in September and again in December.
“Be it further resolved that the Legislature does not concede or confirm the validity of a public health emergency in Salt Lake County or Summit County,” the legislation states.
Summit County enacted a mask mandate on Jan. 7 in response to the omicron surge and the growing number of coronavirus cases in the community. There were 111 new COVID cases reported in Summit County on Monday. The current surge, which began last month, has also seen numerous days with case counts topping 200. Nearly every day in that span has exceeded the previous single-day record of 79 cases set in January 2021.
The legislation comes after lawmakers discontinued statewide COVID health and safety restrictions last year.
It is uncertain when the Utah House of Representatives will vote on the measure, but a spokesperson for House Speaker Brad Wilson told Fox 13 it wasn’t likely to happen on Wednesday.
Summit County officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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